What Personal Representatives Need To Know About Estate Administration

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What Personal Representatives Need To Know About Estate AdministrationTakeaways:

  • Life insurance and retirement accounts that name beneficiaries do avoid probate.
  • It’s important for the person who creates the will to create a list of his/her assets and keep that list in a safe place the personal representative is aware of.
  • Because a probate lawyer understands the deadlines and documents involved in probate, it is crucial for the personal representative to have the help of an experienced

Will Life Insurance And Retirement Accounts With Designated Beneficiaries Avoid Probate in Ohio?

In Ohio, life insurance and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries will avoid probate.

When you name a beneficiary to your life insurance policy, the idea is that it passes to your beneficiary. (Sometimes you can name more than one beneficiary, or you can also name a backup beneficiary.)

We at Ohio Family and Civil Law advise you to make sure that your beneficiary information is always updated because family members and friends move and people pass away. If your beneficiary has passed before the policyholder and there’s no backup beneficiary, the property will be in probate court to transfer those assets to creditors and your next of kin.

As The Personal Representative, How Do I Locate And Safeguard Assets?

One of the hardest things about being a personal representative is simply not knowing where everything is. Because of this, it’s best for the person writing the will to have these things written down. That way your loved ones, inheritors, know where to look if you were to pass away or if you become incapacitated.

Unfortunately, a lot of times the person writing the will does not do this and it’s a scavenger hunt to try to find what somebody has done or not done.

The best way to safeguard your belongings is to make sure your executor or your agent or your power of attorney knows where everything is located. Also, keep these items in a safe place, so the executor knows where to look if something were to happen.

Usually, with a life insurance policy or something similar, the company tries to reach out to the next of kin. But that’s not always the case with every single asset. Thus, it’s best to keep an updated personal list of your assets and where you bank.

This way, if something were to happen to you, your personal representative can locate those assets and get them transferred to the beneficiary. If not, things can linger out there for months, or even years before somebody realizes there’s a lingering asset that needs to be transferred to the beneficiary.

The best thing as an estate attorney I can do is to check the public record. Anytime somebody calls me at the office, I conduct the most thorough online search possible to see what can be located.

Many assets will not be of public record, which is why it is very important that the person creating the will keeps a running list of assets, debts, and contact information in a safe place so you know where to look and who to contact.

Is It Advisable For The Personal Representative To Hire An Attorney To Assist In Locating And Distributing Assets?

A lot of people don’t know where to look or where to even start. So it is advisable to hire an attorney who has the experience needed to help you locate and distribute assets.

When someone passes away, I receive calls from loved ones saying they need to file something for probate court. This allows me to meet with the personal representative or the executor fiduciary. We then sit down, go over everything, and do the best we can to locate all the assets.

Why Are The “Date Of Death Values” Of Probate Assets Important? How Does The Personal Representative Obtain That Kind Of Information?

The date of death valuation is a real estate appraisal. It determines the fair market value of the property based on when a person passed away. Ohio taxes and different laws are based on what year somebody has passed away.

In Ohio, the laws change every year or two. Thus, it’s important to know the date when the person passed away in order to determine what laws apply to that date of death valuation and whether there are any tax consequences.

I’ve had people contact me 10 years later after somebody passes away. In these cases, we have to hire a professional appraiser if we need a death value from the past.

Even in contested probate matters that may last a few years, we still might need to go back in time and figure out what was this value at the date of death to figure out what laws apply and who is entitled to what.

Does The Personal Representative Also Need To Obtain Values Of Non-Probate Assets?

Usually, personal representatives do not need the values of non-probate assets. The non-probate assets will pass directly to the beneficiary if all the papers are done correctly, and each institution communicates its policies and procedures and tax consequences to everybody.

That said, every business is different, so the values of non-probate assets are between the beneficiary and that company. Then you have to go by that company’s internal procedures on how that money is transferred to the beneficiary and if there are any related tax consequences.

For more information on Using Beneficiary Designations To Avoid Probate, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (330) 221-3104 today.