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Estate Question

Not sure this is the right place, but you all seem to know a lot of answers.
My wife prepaid the "assisted" care home for her mother and the Long Term Care Ins reimbursed her with a check made out in my wife's name. When her mother died recently that last LTC check was made out to the "Estate of (her mother)", not to my wife. I assume the LTC insurer does this to close their books on the contract. Fine, but the bank won't accept the check for deposit. I really don't care if this is normal or not, but how does she deposit a check for a dead person? BTW, my wife is executioner named in the will. There really is no other "Estate" besides a few personal things.
Chip
Reply to
Chip Wood
I do not know enough about the subject to answer your question, but I am curious about the duties of an executioner as named in the will. As an executioner, does your wife work in the USA prison system? At first, I thought this might have something to do with the Middle East and the Taliban, but I now realize that is silly. But I still cannot figure out what it has to do with insurance and an estate in the USA.
Reply to
Don
Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law.
When my mom died a few years ago, with regard to the type of question you are asking, we needed to open an account in the name of "Estate of ...".
You can get a TIN from the IRS online almost instantly. If you have an attorney handling the estate, they should be able to give you further guidance.
Reply to
Ron Rosenfeld
Since the estate is small, your wife should be able to get named "voluntary administrator". Here's NYS's page on small estates:
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Other states are generally similar.
This is so easy that I did this myself a couple of years ago. And that was simultaneous to working with an estate lawyer on a significant size estate. (So it's not as though I would have had trouble finding a lawyer - didn't see any need to pay for filling out a couple of forms.)
Just went to the courthouse, filled out a little paperwork (including what assets the deceased had), and got papers that let us open an account for the deceased. Deposited the check, distributed the money to the heirs, closed the account, then filed paperwork with the courthouse showing what the actual assets turned out to be, and that they had been properly distributed.
Good luck.
Reply to
Mark Freeland
Correction. That's a private site. Info there is correct, but it tries to sell you its services.
Here's the official NYS site:
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Reply to
Mark Freeland
That's pretty much the answer. Most estates will need such an account for the executor to be able to do all of his duties.
To open an Estate checking account, you will generally need the following: (a) certified copy of death certificate (b) court papers showing that you have been appointed executor (c) A Taxpayer Id Number (TIN) noted above, actually it's a EIN - which seems misleading, since EIN stands for Employer Identification Number - but it's what you need, and you'll need it anyway if you are going to be filing a 1041 tax return for the estate. You get it online here: (You used to file a form SS-4 to get it, but now it's a lot easier to do online)
Nolo has an excellent handbook for executors and trustees, and there's also an excellent "for dummies" book on the issue, too. I recommend either one.
--
David S. Meyers, CFP®
http://www.MeyersMoney.com
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Reply to
David S Meyers CFP
Sorry about my earlier post. I read too hastily and didn't notice the part about loss of your mother-in-law. I apologize. Don
Reply to
Don
In light of the fact that there is nothing in the estate but a few personal things, I would be hesitant to pay any significant amount of money to anyone to handle the matter without first looking at other possibilities. Could not the OP's wife simply send back the check and ask the Long Term Care Company to issue another check made out her instead of the estate? And I suspect those few personal items could just pass to the family without further paper work.
Reply to
Don

In light of the fact that there is nothing in the estate but a few personal things, I would be hesitant to pay any significant amount of money to anyone to handle the matter without first looking at other possibilities. Could not the OP's wife simply send back the check and ask the Long Term Care Company to issue another check made out her instead of the estate? And I suspect those few personal items could just pass to the family without further paper work.
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Be careful NOT to be penny wise and pound foolish.
I hear "reasons" every day for why someone doesn't want to open a probate estate, some are valid and some are not. But I'll share a few of the reasons why I always that a probate estate be opened.
1 - if there really is NOTHING in the estate, the filing fees will be cheap. A small estate in Maryland - Under $20K I think - can be opened for $150;
2 - creditors have certain rights against estate assets (like the check referenced above). While we may THINK we know all about Aunt Mary's financial life, the reality is that none of can be certain that we've covered everything. Opening a probate estate starts the statute of limitations running on how long a creditor has to file a claim against the estate. In Maryland if a creditor fails to file a claim within six months of the probate estate being listed in the local paper then that creditor forever loses the right to what is owed them;
3 - failure to open a probate estate so that all creditor, known and unknown to the personal representative, shifts liability to the personal representative PERSONALLY. For example, in this case if no probate estate is opened and the PR is able to get the check reissued to them personally and 2 years from now a creditor pops up and says "gimmie", the PR may be personally liable to that creditor.
IANAL, but I've done probate admin work as an accountant for almost 30 years. When my father died in 91 mom went to the courthouse to open a probate estate and the clerk (of the Orphan's Court in Maryland) told her she did NOT need to do that since she was his wife and everything would pass to her. This was technically correct, but practically it created a real mess.
When mom died in 95 and my brother and I went to open her probate estate we were FORCED to also open an estate for dad, who died 4 year earlier - WHY, you may ask? Because mom didn't open a probate estate she could NOT remove dad's name from the house or car. So the only way for US to resolve her estate was to first open one for HIM. Twice the work and twice the cost and effort. It would have been simpler had mom done what we told her to when dad died.
So even though you may NOT be required to open a probate estate, doing so provides some liability protection for the PR, locks out creditors and claimants against and cleans things up properly.
Good luck, Gene E. Utterback, EA, RFC, ABA
Reply to
Gene E. Utterback, EA, ABA
On Mar 2, 9:50 am, "Gene E. Utterback, EA, ABA" wrote:
Yes, I certainly agree that it is not a good idea to be penny wise and pound foolish. It seems to me the points you mention are indeed good reasons for opening a probate estate. I wonder, however, how frequently these scenarios actually apply to a lot of people. I have no statistics, but my guess is hat there are many people who might not need to pay even $150 to avoid those kind of problems.
Actually, I am more concerned with professionals overcharging for simple things that could easily be done by heirs or executors themselves even when probate is necessary. For example, I see no reason at all for paying a lawyer or anyone else 5% of the assets in an estate for taking a few forms to the courthouse and performing a few other simple duties (which are commonly done by a legal secretary anyway). If there are complexities in an estate which require legal advice, an executor should hire a lawyer on a consultation basis as needed, paying that lawyer's usual hourly fee. A percentage of assets usually is outrageous. The same goes for stock brokers or any other professional advice that might be needed.
Reply to
Don

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