Dividing the Estate Part 1/2

07.May.2011by Karen in Money & Law· 5 comments

The road to dividing up an estate is not always smooth. So when I saw an article in the current May issue of Money, page 96, titled Their Legacy . . . Your Headache? caught my attention.

Of course at this point, you won’t know what your situation will be but by participating in HOP2 you are hopefully developing a tool box with resources to be better prepared help you when your turn does arrive.

Chances are, you’ll find yourself grappling with these issues in the near future, if you haven’t already: Among the wealthier half of baby boomers, 75% will get a bequest in their lifetime from a parent or other older relative, a recent study for MetLife found. The median amount: $159,000, including home equity.

If in your potential situation you believe there will be an inheritance to deal with you will find this article worth reading. It reviews various situations when there is an inheritance from a parents estate (a house or other property, retirement accounts, a bequest with strings, stocks or other taxable investments,  a family business) and offers solutions.

The magazine article shares some additional info that the online articles does not include. You might want to check to see if your local library has a copy.

The one thing I know from personal experience is that the job of executor is not an easy one and our estate was small. The job does take time and energy. The job can last a year or two. The larger the estate the more important it is to seek the services of qualified professionals.

I found the following extremely helpful in our situation. We immediately hired an attorney who we found very worth the expense. I communicated important information to my siblings via e-mail. This included copying them in on e-mails with the attorney and he did the same. We were able to be at the house together to make decisions on the contents.

Although challenging at times, we found this worked well for us. The law provides that the executor can take a fee which I decided to waive and do not regret. Ours was a small estate and my sibs were a big help. However, especially in larger more complicates estates, the compensation may be well deserved. It is helpful if all can agree on this or even better if the parents include directions for the executor to receive compensation as part of their directives.

One of the contributors for the article, Pattie Cagney Sheehan of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, includes some additional suggestions from her personal experience.


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