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Estate and Trust Administration For Dummies, 2nd Edition


Learn to:

  • Take the proper steps to navigate estate and trust processes
  • Comply with tax regulations
  • Make sense of unfamiliar estate and trust administration terms

Your plain-English guide to administering an estate or trust

Administering an estate or a trust is a big responsibility. This practical, authoritative guide contains advice for handling estates and trusts, whether large or small. It also explains how to read and interpret documents, take care of a loved one's estate in the event he or she never created a will, and help the estate or trust avoid paying too much (or too little) in taxes.

  • Estate and Trust Administration 101 — get the lowdown on estate and trust administration lingo; who the players are; and, in the case of trusts, exactly what games are being played
  • From soup to nuts — determine what the decedent owned (and owed), locate the necessary documents, figure out who inherits, shepherd the estate through the probate process, distribute what's left after everyone has been paid, and close the estate for good
  • The powers that be — discover what powers you have as trustee, what duties you're expected to perform, how to keep the necessary records, and the best way to terminate the trust after its job is done
  • A pain in the tax — find a plain-English explanation of preparing a simple estate tax return (Form 706), annual income tax returns for trusts and estates (Form 1041), and the decedent's final Form 1040

Open the book and find:

  • The first steps to take after a loved one's death
  • Guidance on navigating the probate process
  • Advice on marshaling and liquidating assets
  • The duties of trustees and executors
  • How to file income tax returns for a decedent, estate, or trust
  • Common pitfalls to avoid
  • Tips on finding and managing professional help
  • Ten common taxes you may have to pay

Margaret Atkins Munro, EA, is a tax advisor, writer, and lecturer with more than 30 years' experience in trusts, estates, family tax, and small business. Kathryn A. Murphy, Esq., is an attorney with more than 20 years' experience administering estates and trusts and preparing estate and gift tax returns.

Introduction  1

Part I: Getting Started with Estate and Trust Administration  7

Chapter 1: Operating in a Fiduciary World 9

Chapter 2: Exploring the Ins and Outs of Estates 19

Chapter 3: Identifying Different Types of Trusts 31

Chapter 4: Assembling Your Team Members and Knowing When to Use Them 57

Part II: Administering an Estate  73

Chapter 5: Taking the First Steps after Death 75

Chapter 6: Navigating the Probate Process 91

Chapter 7: Marshalling and Liquidating Assets 109

Chapter 8: Paying the Debts, Expenses, Bequests, and Devises from the Estate 133

Chapter 9: Closing the Estate 147

Part III: Operating a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust  157

Chapter 10: Understanding the Trustee’s Duties 159

Chapter 11: Funding the Trust 171

Chapter 12: Investing the Trust’s Assets and Paying Its Expenses 183

Chapter 13: Paying Trust Beneficiaries 203

Chapter 14: Creating and Keeping Trust Records 217

Chapter 15: Terminating the Trust 231

Part IV: Paying the Taxes  241

Chapter 16: Preparing the Estate Tax Return, Part 1 243

Chapter 17: Preparing the Estate Tax Return, Part 2 263

Chapter 18: Filing Income Tax Returns for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust 287

Chapter 19: Weighing Income Tax Implications 311

Chapter 20: Reporting Tax Info on Schedule K-1 321

Part V: The Part of Tens  333

Chapter 21: Ten Pitfalls for the Unwary 335

Chapter 22: Ten Types of Taxes You May Have to Pay 343

Appendix A: Glossary  349

Appendix B: State-by-State Rules of Intestacy and Estate or Inheritance Tax  359

Index  379