The Importance of Communication in Estate Planning: Between Family, Beneficiaries, and the Estate or Trust Administrator
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
June 11, 2020
After someone passes away, there’s a lot to do. For friends and family alike, it’s a time of much uncertainty and change. This is why communication in estate planning is essential in making this transition a little easier for everyone involved.
We’ve detailed the importance of clear communication between you and your family and you and your attorney in previous posts. Here, we are going to cover the value of broader communication family members, beneficiaries, and the person or people administering the estate and/or any trusts that were set up.
Here’s what you need to know for estate planning to help everyone involved understand what to expect from the process and what their rights are under the law.
When someone passes away, the family or friend must contact the trust or personal representative or estate administrator in order to put the process in motion. The personal representative needs a signed, official will if available. If there is no will, a personal representative can proceed without one.
Next, the executor (known as the personal representative here in Florida) go to the state probate which is the circuit court. If no will was created, or if a personal representative was not named in the will, then the court names a personal representative. Either way, the personal representative is officially appointed by the court.
After being appointed, it is the duty of the personal representative to notify within 60 days all next of kin and beneficiaries of the will that:
- The will has been officially admitted to the court (probated)
- The personal representative has been appointed by the court and to provide all their contact information
- A copy of the will is to be provided or directions to obtain a copy of the will for themselves
Additionally, the personal representative oversees:
- Inventory of all the decedent’s assets
- Payment of all outstanding bills
- Completing and paying all state and federal income and estate taxes
After these tasks have been completed, the balance of the estate is then distributed to the beneficiaries.
The Rights of Beneficiaries
Under a will, beneficiaries have several important rights. Understanding these rights ensures that you’re getting what you should from the personal representative at all times. These rights include:
- The right to receive any asset the decedent left to them
- The right to receive any assets left to them in a timely manner, though the meaning of “timely” can vary by circumstances and the state in which you live
- The right to receive information about the estate
- The right to make a request to the court for a different personal representative for good reason that can be proved to the court
- The right for the personal representative to act in their best interests
Beneficiaries can contact the personal representative at any time to ask questions or voice concerns, so never be shy to make the situation as transparent as you need it to be in order to understand what is taking place.
The Bottom Line
The administration of an estate can be time-consuming and it’s common for the process to take six months up to a year or more. Personal representatives can always ask for the help of an estate or business planning attorney to help them navigate this sometimes confusing process and help them with the communication of estate planning. If you want to find out more, contact Haimo Law today.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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