1. Collecting assets
This includes locating and valuing all property, vehicles, financial accounts, and personal belongings belonging to the estate. It may also involve dealing with the deceased person's creditors.
2. Paying debts
This includes paying any outstanding debts owed by the estate, including taxes, mortgages, credit card balances, and medical bills. It may also involve negotiating with creditors to try to reduce the amount owed.
3. Distributing assets
This includes distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the instructions laid out in the will or trust. This may involve selling property, transferring ownership of assets, and distributing cash.
4. Handling legal matters
This includes dealing with any legal matters that may arise during the estate settlement process, such as probate or estate litigation. It may also involve working with the estate's attorney to prepare and file all required legal documents.
5. Keeping records
This includes keeping accurate records of all financial transactions and correspondence related to the estate. This may involve setting up a separate bank account for the estate and keeping track of all income and expenses.
6. Filing documents
This includes preparing and filing all required legal documents in a timely manner. This may involve filing the will with the probate court, opening a probate case, and filing tax returns.
7. Filing the final tax return
This includes working with the estate's accountant to file the final tax return. This may involve preparing and filing Form 1040, Estate Tax Return, and Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.
8. Winding up the estate
This includes closing the estate once all assets have been distributed and all debts have been paid. This may involve filing a petition with the court to have the estate formally closed and distributing any remaining assets to the beneficiaries.