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Estate Settlement Support FAQs

Who can benefit from this service? 

Widows, widowers, successor trustees and executors who are feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities involved in settling or managing a complex estate.  Complex estates are sometimes characterized by many investment/retirement accounts, multiple properties, multiple trusts, multiple beneficiaries, income tax issues, family disagreements, problems with how assets were titled, beneficiaries who do not have experience with investments, are at risk from judgments or creditors, or are on government assistance.   These are some of the more common situations we have been asked to help sort out.  

What services does Estate Settlement Support encompass? 

From Financial Life Plans:

  • Consultations by phone, Zoom or in person.
  • We will call all life insurance annuity companies, former employers (for pensions and life insurance benefits), 401K providers to report the death and obtain claims forms.
  • We will assist in completing claims forms.
  • We will review of all trusts and explain the key responsibilities you have as trustee.
  • We will obtain new Tax ID numbers where needed.
  • We can assist in creating an inventory of the estate with attention to how each asset needs to be handled.
  • We work with your legal and tax professionals (or we will refer you to the attorneys and CPAs we work with).
  • We will evaluate your options to minimize tax impact of making distributions to beneficiaries.
  • We will provide an investment analysis and review to support fiduciaries in making “prudent” investment decisions.
  • We will provide discounted financial plans for beneficiaries inheriting significant assets.
  • We can assist you with family/beneficiary meetings.
  • We will review of all business agreements, leases, rentals, partnership agreements, and buy-sell agreements and explain your responsibilities.                                                  

 From CPA:

  • CPA prepared trust tax returns at competitive rates.
  • CPA filed estate tax returns (Form 706) at competitive rates. 

What if the successor trustees and beneficiaries are in different states than the deceased was? 

If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it is that business can be completed successfully via Zoom, phone, email, and mail.   We also have a “vault” that clients can use to upload private documents securely and share them with us.  

When is the best time to utilize this service? 

I like the Boy Scout’s motto: “Be prepared.”  When it comes to estate planning, it is usually best not to wait until the last minute.   Most problems and difficulties can be avoided if they are addressed in advance.   For clients who are still alive, we offer a Beneficiary and Estate Review that evaluates how the estate and assets are going to pass to heirs, who they are set up to pass to, and tax ramifications.   We prefer to meet with the client and family members (if the client is agreeable) or at least the client and client’s successor trustee before death or mental incapacity occurs so we can help them correct any problems and recommend any changes that should be made. 

Why should I hire you when I can use the services of an estate planning/probate attorney? 

We are not an alternative to an estate planning attorney or CPA.   We do not give tax or legal advice.  By the same token, attorneys and CPAs are not experts in investments or financial planning.   Ideally, you want a coordinated effort between a financial advisor, an estate planning/probate attorney, and a CPA to achieve the best results.    We have that team assembled already and we have been working together for years.   We also work with tax and legal professionals that our clients already have in place. 

We have found that with the services we provide, we can often save time you would be billed for with the attorney.  We can arrange for discounted rates on estate plan document preparation through our attorney relationships.  The CPA we work with also offers competitive rates for tax preparation services.