final duties


Old 10-27-10, 06:47 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 12
final duties

Recently (09/14/10), my aunt passed away. I had been responsible for her care, meaning bill-paying, assisted living stuff, etc. A cousin did most all of the hands-on care, (visits & goodies).

I need to know what needs to be done legally. She has no estate, except the small amount in checking account; We were pretty much month to month as I've already sold all assets (for care). Anyway, I was gonna split the account in equal pieces and send survivors a check but I'm not sure how long I should wait to clear all debts. Except for her monthly bills for care, she owed nobody. As far as I can tell, it's done. Can I simply zero out her account ?
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Old 10-27-10, 07:51 AM
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I think the estate still has to go through probate

Might be worth a consultation with an attorney

Hate to see some kind of legal battle as a result, especially considering there isn't much to gain
Old 10-27-10, 09:03 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: South Florida
Posts: 376
You should do a search inserting the name of your state and the words ‘small estate statutes’. Many states allow small estates to pass without court administration, or with minimal court involvement. That info may reference a state statute, and I suggest you read it if one exists for your state. In FL, the threshold starts at less than $75,000, and the requirements are adjusted downward as that $ value declines. Following and documenting what they say should be done may help shield you from a legal challenge should someone bring claims against you.

You should also search the IRS website, or hire an accountant, as I suspect a federal estate tax filing will need to be made. Without a filing or some other form of notification, it seems to me the IRS would waste considerable resources tracking down deceased people if they thought they were still alive.

I was gonna split the account in equal pieces and send survivors a check but I'm not sure how long I should wait to clear all debts.
I would caution against doing that until you’ve at least had an opportunity to read your state’s small estate statute or spoken w/ an attorney if not comfortable dealing w/ legal matters that may require preparation of forms and/or letters. You will likely need to ascertain whether your aunt died intestate (w/o a will). Most states have a very defined pecking order for distribution of assets when there is no will. If having a will, I suspect you’ll be guided to follow her wishes irrespective of the dollar amount involved although a de minimis exception may apply.
Old 10-27-10, 09:25 AM
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I can tell you, you don't need to do a federal estate tax filing. You only need to do that if you're talking a million or more. They only need to get involved if your aunt owes any federal income tax on regular tax returns.
Check your city or county's website first. They should have a section that will tell you all you need to do. You will have to probate and that fee will also be taken from her estate. Her "estate" is anything that's left, including her checking account.
Did she leave a will? That will name an executor that's in charge of getting everything done. If no will, the court will name someone. It can get a little complex and overwhelming, even if there's just a little left. If you get a lawyer, he/she's going to want 10% too.
Usually it takes 3 months to one year till you can give everyone their share and close the probate.
Old 10-27-10, 11:28 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 12
Thanks for these responses.

Specifics not mentioned earlier are: her will, as far as I have found was drawn up in 1961, names my Dad (my aunts' brother) as the executor; he passed in 07. Aunt outlived everyone mentioned in will, which includes distribution. It did specify: 'if any of them (original sisters, brothers, sisters in law, brothers in law) should have predeceased us, his or her share shall be divided equally among his or her children (my cousins).' Oh, and all this is if she outlived her husband (which she did).

I took over care (as power of attorney and payee rep) in 04 from my Dad. The will was not updated during these times.

It appears that legal involvement is required, at least as a safeguard from debts and taxes, for less than 5K. I think the will (from the wording above) has me covered, yes ?

Thanks again for the prompt responses....

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