As California fans of Prince continue to mourn his death, his heirs have petitioned a court to reduce Comerica Bank & Trust's role as estate administrator. The late singer and songwriter's siblings claim in their legal filings that Comerica has collected $10 million in fees from the estate while spending $45 million on probate expenses. Additionally, the estate still owes $31 million in federal and state estate taxes. As time passes, interest increases the tax bill.
Successfully carrying out the task of closing a deceased family member's estate may require an executor to probate the will, secure assets, notify beneficiaries and more. California residents who have done this job have benefited from working with attorneys, accountants and financial and insurance advisors. Unfortunately, executors often make mistakes that can easily be avoided by having the right frame of mind and remembering a few basic things.
California residents who are developing their estate plans should make sure to address what should happen with their personal items, some of which may be valuable. When doing so, there are some issues they may want to keep in mind.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly raised the federal estate tax exemption. For the executor of an estate in California to know if an estate has exceeded this exemption, the person must calculate the gross estate of the decedent. Estates with values above the exemption will need to complete form 706 for the Internal Revenue Service. If any estate taxes are owed, they must be paid no later than nine months after the person's date of death.
After people pass away in California, there are still a number of tax tasks and obligations related to their estate, which includes all of the assets owned by a person at the time of death. This includes real estate, bank accounts, securities, overseas properties and even gifts made during a person's lifetime. In addition, there are other types of property that are also considered to be part of a person's estate, even if their ownership structure is more complicated. These include annuities, some types of life insurance proceeds, jointly held property with a right of survivorship and property that the person can control even without ownership.
If you have recently lost a loved one and have been named to serve as the administrator, personal representative or executor of their estate, you will have to deal with many different issues. Probate administration can be complex and may require you to complete a number of different tasks.
When a will is contested in California, a question comes up as to who the interested parties are with regards to the estate. At first glance, the answer to this question might seem clear-cut. However, after more investigation is done, it may come to light that there are a number of interested parties, many of which the individual or individuals initiating the will contest might not have even known about or anticipated. The interested parties are not confined to individuals who are listed in the last will and testament.
The death of a loved one in California can bring out surprising claims on an estate, especially if the loved one was wealthy or famous. Aretha Franklin, the celebrated performer known as the "Queen of Soul," passed away in August 2018 at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Despite having an estate worth millions of dollars and a valuable music catalog, she left behind no will or trusts to disperse her assets. As a result, relatives and others have jumped into the fray to make a claim on the estate.
When a person passes, his or her assets may need to go through probate. However, there are ways in which an individual in California and most other states can keep some or all assets from going through this process. Those who own a home, car or financial asset may be able to add a beneficiary designation to these assets. It may also be possible to create a transfer on death or a payable on death designation, also known as a TOD or POD, respectively.
In California, it is possible for an individual to have an executor or a trustee or both as part of an estate planning team. An executor is someone who represents the estate in the event that it has to go through probate. The trustee is the person who is in charge of a trust, and this person may fulfill that role both before and after its creator passes.