Financial Management
Our Estate Management Services




Estate Planning
Estate Planning is more than the creation of a simple or complex will or trust. It begins with a very detailed study of all matters that pertain to one's estate. The result is a tailor-made estate plan that complies with one's way of life, desires, wants and wishes. In most cases, the plan takes advantage of all possible tax savings. Proper estate planning, including the naming of an experienced Executor and/or Trustee, eliminates many of the problems that can prevent the orderly handling of one's affairs after death.
Executor of Will

An Executor is someone named in a will to carry out its provisions. It is the executor's duty to offer the will for probate and to defend its authenticity against any challengers. Prior to formal admission of the will to probate, the executor must take action to protect the property of the descendent.

Once the will has been admitted to probate, the executor assumes control over all assets of the descendant. This authority lasts during the time of the administration of the will.

Any claims of debts against the estate are filed with the Executor. It is the Executor's duty to determine the merit of such claims, paying them if they are deemed just, or, if excessive or unfounded, referring them to the estate's attorney for appropriate action.

It is the Executor's responsibility to file an income tax return on behalf of the descendant for the portion of the tax year he or she was alive. For previous years, the Executor must defend the estate against any claims for back taxes, and seek any refunds that may be due.

The Executor must determine and pay all appropriate death taxes. An experienced Executor is particularly important where property evaluation may be a matter of opinion, as in the case of business interests, real estate and collectibles (art, stamps, coins, furniture).

The Executor's highest responsibility is to see that the wishes of the descendant are carried out. After debts, taxes and all foreseeable liabilities and expenses have been provided for, the specified legacies as directed by the will are paid. The remaining balance of the estate, known as the residue, is then distributed in accordance with the terms of the will.

At this point, the Executor prepares and files a final accounting for the estate. When this accounting is approved by the Probate Court, the estate is closed and the Executor discharged from his or her duties.

Administrator in the Absence of a Will
If there is no will, the Probate Court appoints an administrator to settle the estate. The administrator’s duties and responsibilities are basically the same as those of an executor. The administrator will make payments of all debts, taxes and expenses that relate to the estate, and then distribute the residue to the descendant’s heirs at law. (In effect, the state, by stature, creates a will that dictates who will inherit the property).
Trustee Under a Will

Trusts established by a settlor in his or her will go into effect upon death. Such trusts may be funded by a specified sum of money, by certain specified assets, or by all or part of the residue of the estate. The beneficiaries of the trust may be the descendant’s relatives, other persons, or one or more religious, charitable or educational institutions.

Reasons for establishing a trust vary. The descendent may want, for example, to protect minor members of his family from their own inexperience in managing investments, or else the trust may function to lessen estate taxes.

Whatever the reason, the trustee’s duty is to carry out the terms of the trust, manage its assets prudently, and distribute the income and principal as the trust terms direct. The trust may be drawn up to give the trustee authority to draw on the principal and distribute it to the beneficiaries in emergencies, to allow the beneficiaries to continue living at the standard to which they are accustomed, to pay the cost of an education, or to assist with the purchase of a home or the starting of a business.

Co-Executor and Co-Trustee

Under certain circumstances, it may be desirable to have more than one executor or trustee. A married person may wish to give his or her spouse a sense of participation in the estate and/or trust by making them a co-trustee, and the trust may benefit from this person’s understanding of family matters. Similarly, in cases involving a business interest, a business colleague may be able to make important contributions to the settlement and administration of the estate.

We welcome the opportunity to serve as co-executor and/or co-trustee with any individual who can make a contribution to the task at hand.

Please call 606-451-0388 for more information.
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Estate Management
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