Major Estate Matters: What To Know

When a loved one passes away, it might be your job to perform the tasks of the personal representative (executor). This job can be confusing in some cases, but the size and scope of the estate can turn a task into a chore if you don't have the proper guidance and legal support. That is why if the estate you are overseeing falls into the below categories, you will need the support of an estate attorney to ensure that everything is done correctly. Read on and find out more.

High Asset Estates

What is classified as "high" might depend on the median income of the state of residence. When an estate contains bank accounts or investment accounts with high balances, more than a single piece of real estate, or other expensive holdings, you might be dealing with a high-asset estate. Those with a lot of assets often do some advance planning for this situation and that can take some of the pressure off the personal representative. Unfortunately, that planning might mean things go beyond a simple last will and testament. Trusts and other estate vehicles may be unfamiliar to some personal representatives. You might find, for example, that someone with high assets has made plans to avoid much of their property having to be probated.

High Debt Estates

Not all high asset estates also have a high debt load but the two can be connected. If your loved one passed away with debt, there is a way to deal with that. Most people, in fact, don't realize that probate came about, in part, as a way to make sure that creditors were not left out after a death. Not all creditors have equal standing. For example, tax debts might take precedence over credit card debts. It can be difficult for personal representatives to figure out who to pay first and that is where a lawyer comes in. Only pay the debt you are directed to pay and nothing else.

Businesses Within the Estate

When the deceased owned a business, things can get complex. In some cases, the deceased left behind instructions and powers of attorneys to cope with a smooth transition to keep the business going. Business dealings can be too complex for many personal representatives to handle. The business tax issue alone could confound most people.

Will Contests

When a will is contested, that means someone is raising a legal argument with it. It might be family members or almost anyone that disagrees with the will. In many cases, a will contest means court but not always. What is indisputable, though, is the need for legal help when that happens.

To find out about the above issues and much more, speak to an estate planning attorney.