“How do we do what Dad wanted?”
Joe was a 93-year old father and grandfather who was greatly beloved by his family. When he passed away, many mourned. When his two daughters, Debbie and Linda, were ready, they began cleaning out his home and attempted to gather his assets so they could be distributed the way Dad wanted. But they suddenly hit obstacles. Even though they knew the bank teller well, she suddenly wouldn’t let them make a withdrawal from Dad’s account without some mysterious court ‘letter’. They had similar problems with Dad’s brokerage account. And when they contacted their local real estate broker to deal with the house she told them that although she’d love to list it, she couldn’t do it without, again, the mysterious court ‘letter’. The sisters were confused and frustrated, and didn’t know how to move forward.
What did they do?
A visit to Dad’s Elder Law attorney held the key to the mystery. The attorney explained that Dad had created a Will years ago and Debbie was named Executor, but until the Will was probated she lacked the power to do anything. The attorney began the probate process by preparing a petition to the Court to accept Joe’s Will as valid, and to issue Letters Testamentary — those mysterious letters that everyone was asking for — which is the official document that shows that Debbie is the Executor and can act on behalf of the estate.
Once Debbie had the Letters Testamentary, she was able to begin settling Dad’s estate by paying Dad’s last bills, filing his last income tax return (and perhaps an estate tax return) and notifying various parties of his passing. The attorney helped Debbie with these tasks, as well as getting a tax ID number for the estate, filing an inventory with the court, and preparing an accounting for the named beneficiaries. When the loose ends were tied up, the attorney instructed Debbie on how to make the distributions Joe wanted in his Will.
If you find yourself in a situation like Debbie and Linda, know that you are not alone. We can help walk you through the complicated probate process. Whether you are the one making or processing a Will, we can help. Remember, we are only a phone call or e-mail away.
This is the third in a series on “How your Elder Law Attorney Can Help You” in honor of Elder Law Month.
The information provided in this email does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available here are for general informational purposes only.