Death of a Loved One – Now What?
Your loved one has died – now what happens? How are a decedent’s assets transferred to the appropriate people? The answer lies in how title to each asset was held.
Sole Name. In California, if the total gross value of assets are less than $150,000, a beneficiary may use a small estate affidavit to claim the asset after forty days have passed.
If the total gross value of assets held exceeds $150,000, a probate administration will be necessary. The Court will appoint an Executor or Administrator to marshal the assets and manage the affairs of the estate. This person must submit a report to the Court, as well as an accounting, before any distribution may be made. This may be a very lengthy and costly process.
Trust. The successor Trustee, who is named in a Living Trust, is responsible for trust administration and distribution. Generally, trust accounts must be transferred to the name of the successor Trustee and a new tax identification number must be obtained before distributions may be made. A Trustee is usually required to present an accounting to the beneficiaries.
Joint Tenancy. Assets held in joint tenancy may be transferred to the surviving tenant with a death certificate and an affidavit. While this may sound like the easiest approach for the survivors, joint tenancy assets may deprive the surviving joint tenant of tax advantages offered by other forms of ownership.
For more information on estate planning or post-death administration, please schedule a consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney.