Marshalling assets in Martin County probate presents challenges you may not feel ready to address. This is common. In fact, many people feel overwhelmed when trying to grieve properly and addressing the needs of an estate. To ensure that you, as a personal representative or estate executor, administer an estate properly, you need to reach out to an experienced legal professional specializing in estate planning and probate. Counsel can guide you through the probate process, explain the duties of an estate executor, vet creditor claims, and keep you organized through this challenging moment in your life.
“Marshalling assets” is a term used to describe the process and obligation that a personal representative or estate executor has to gain control over estate assets. On a practical level, this may mean contacting a financial institution where an account owned by the decedent is held, liquidating the account, and transferring account assets to an account that is titled in the name of the estate (and associated with the estate’s tax ID number or EIN).
There are several ways that estate property is located and identified. Checking with family members or close friends of the decedent may offer clues. One of the most practical ways is for the personal representative, after being appointed, to begin receiving and reviewing the decedent’s mail, including bank statements and information related to bank accounts. Finally, checking public records may provide information about real estate owned by the decedent. The nature of possession will vary based on the type of asset. For example, bank accounts are possessed by gaining control of the account. This requires contact with the financial institution and, typically, provision of Letters of Administration and an estate EIN.
The personal representative or estate executor will ultimately be required to produce an accounting for the probate court, so all statements and correspondence related to estate assets, including bank accounts, should be saved.
Real estate, if it’s improved property, may be possessed by changing the locks so that only the personal representative or estate executor has access. If the property is occupied, then the personal representative should communicate the status of administration to the tenants or co-owners, if any, and arrange for any rental payments to be sent to the personal representative.
Vehicles may be possessed by storing them in a safe, secure location to which only the personal representative or estate executor has access.
Marshalling the assets in Palm City probate can be a very simple or complex process depending on the size and nature of the estate’s assets. For example, take an estate consisting entirely of a single bank or investment account. Marshalling that account will be a pretty straightforward process. On the other hand, take an estate that owns various parcels of real estate, vehicles, a business, and several financial accounts, including bank accounts. Marshalling the assets, in that case, is likely to take a significant amount of time.
Conversely, the smaller the number of assets in the probate estate, the simpler the process, generally. Financial accounts like bank or investment accounts are typically much easier to marshal than real estate, businesses, automobiles, or boats.
One of the most important duties of an executor or estate executor is to properly marshal estate assets so that no asset is sold or transferred without the personal representative or estate executor first discussing it with his/her attorney. When it comes to marshalling financial accounts, including bank accounts, it is exceptionally important for the personal representative or estate executor to ensure that the financial institution where the account is held properly updates its records with the decedent’s date of death. Properly recording this information will ensure that accurate tax information is reported to the IRS.
One misconception about marshalling estate assets is that the beneficiaries automatically become entitled to the assets after the decedent’s death. Estate assets, including bank accounts, are the property of the personal representative or estate executor on behalf of the estate and should not be distributed to estate beneficiaries without guidance from a qualified Florida probate attorney specializing in estate planning and distribution of assets.
Marshalling assets in Palm City probate, including bank accounts, is not as easy as many people may think it is. In fact, depending on the size of the decedent’s estate, a personal administrator or estate executor can find that the duties of an executor are a herculean effort. In moments of doubt when dealing with alleged creditors you could find that you are unequipped to vet claims. Worse yet, there can come situations where the sheer volume of paperwork prevents you from grieving. If this sounds familiar, or if you simply wish to make sure that you are on the right track in terms of estate planning and distribution of assets, you should reach out to an attorney specializing in estate planning and probate.