Monday, May 18, 2015
Expenses of the Estate, Part IV: Fees Received as Personal Representative (Executor) are Taxable!
A Minnesota Probate Attorney Explains That Fees Received for Acting as a Personal Representative (Executor) Are Taxable
Serving as a personal representative takes a lot of time. As a result, some personal representatives consider charging the estate for their time as permitted under Minnesota law.
As appealing as that can be, the attorney should help the personal representative consider all the consequences of that decision. One consequence that is often overlooked is that fees paid to the personal representative are taxable and must be included in their gross income. As a result, the estate may be required to generate a 1099.
Contact a Minnesota Probate Lawyer to discuss your rights and obligations as executor.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Expenses of the Estate, Part III: D0 I Get Paid To Act As Personal Representative (Executor)?
Minnesota Probate Attorney Explains Compensation for a Personal Representative
You are nominated as a personal representative to handle someone’s estate. Can you get paid for handling these matters? In a word, yes.
Your fee is dictated by Minnesota probate law. Unfortunately, Minnesota law doesn’t provide much guidance as the probate law simply says, “[a] personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for services.”
What does that mean?
It’s not really clear. The courts have generally stated that they know an unreasonable fee when they see one. But, they have failed to provide guidance on what constitutes a reasonable fee.
A personal representative is always entitled to be reimbursed for any expenses related to the probate. For instance, paying for filing fees, copies of the death certificate, publishing fees, attorney’s fees, accountant fees etc.…
I often suggest to clients that they state the fee they want to get up front to the rest of the family so there is no argument later. This can be a flat amount of the estate ($5,000) or an hourly fee and the PR can simply track their time spent working on the probate.
Are fees received for acting as personal representative taxable? See the next post for the answer.
Work with a Minnesota probate lawyer to ensure that you are getting paid a fair amount for the work you put in to handling an estate.
Monday, May 04, 2015
The Expenses of Probate, Part II: What Are The Fees for Handling an Estate (Probate)?
A Minneapolis Probate Attorney Explains the Fees Associated with Handling a Probate
In Part I of this series, I explained who is responsible for paying the fees to start a probate. This post discusses the different types of fees involved.
• Court Fees
These fees are dictated by Minnesota probate law and cover the court filing fee, publishing and copy fees. In Minnesota, this generally amounts to about $500-$1000.
• Attorney's Fees
Naturally, these fees vary by attorney. Be sure to ask the Minnesota probate lawyer about these fees before signing anything. At Unique Estate Law, we list our fees up front AND provide our probate clients with a knowledgeable quote based on what we think will be involved in handling the estate.
• Accounting Fees
These fees will vary depending upon the overall value of the estate and the type of assets owned. For instance, a small estate that nonetheless owns 25 different stocks and bonds may generate more accounting fees than a larger estate that owns a primary residence, a bank account and a CD. Of course, if the estate is taxable at the state and/or federal level, then the accounting fees may include the preparation and filing of the state and/or federal estate tax returns if the attorney for the estate doesn't prepare and file the returns.
• Appraisal and Business Valuation Fees
These fees will be necessary to determine the date of death values of real estate, personal property (including jewelry, antiques, art work, boats, cars and the like), and business interests. Appraisal fees for personal property can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, while business valuation fees will run several thousand dollars.
I had a probate client who owned several racehorses. We had to hire someone to conduct an appraisal done of the horses so we could value them for the probate. The Personal Representative was lucky in that case as his father had opened a joint bank account and deposited funds for the sole purpose of funding probate fees. So, he did not need to pay for these things out of his own pocket and then wait to get reimbursed later.
• Bond Fees
If you don't have a Last Will and Testament that waives the posting of a bond by your Personal Representative, then before your Personal Representative can be appointed he or she may need to pay for and post a bond in an amount determined by the probate judge. I've also run into situations where the probate judge has required a bond to be posted even though the Last Will and Testament waived the posting of a bond simply because minor children - or charitable - beneficiaries were involved.
• Miscellaneous Fees
There are almost always other fees involved in a probate. The following are a few examples of such fees:
- Postage to mail notices and documents to interested persons or governmental authorities
- Insuring and storing personal property;
- Shipping personal property;
- Moving personal property
- Paying the decedent’s mortgage
- Paying for property/casualty insurance on a residence
- Lawn care services
- House repairs (I had a client who had to pay to fix an ice dam on his father’s home during probate)
- Car insurance
As you can see, there are many fees involved in handling a probate. These fees can amount to several thousand dollars just to get assets/items to the beneficiaries. There are ways around paying the fees for probate. While that discussion is beyond the scope of this post, I do discuss it in other posts.
Contact a Minneapolis probate lawyer now to ask about the fees involved in probate.
I’m the personal representative? Do I get paid for that? See Part III for the answer to this question.
Monday, April 27, 2015
The Expenses of Probate, PART I: Who Pays The Fees For A Probate When Someone Dies?
Minnesota Probate Lawyer Explains Who Is Responsible for Paying Probate Fees
Recently, a client came to me to assist her with handling her mother’s estate. Her mother was sick for many years and had taken the time to plan as orderly a transition as possible after her death. She had a will drafted by an attorney and discussed her wishes with her relatives. The main asset was a money market account that would be paid out according to the will.
At our first meeting, I explained how probate works and the fees involved. She then asked the inevitable question of who pays for the probate. I explained that the estate is responsible for paying any fees associated with probate. “Well, there is money in an account, but how do I get that money out?” OR “The bank told me I can’t get the money until the court appoints me as personal representative. How do I pay the fees now?” As a Minnesota probate lawyer, I hear this question a lot.
And here is the circular problem with paying for probate. The personal representative needs to pay to open up a probate, but can’t get the money until the probate is done. Unfortunately, this means that the personal representative must front the money for working through the probate until he/she is officially appointed by the court and can then access the money that has been frozen since the decedent died.
Contact a Minnesota probate attorney now to ask about the process of opening a probate.
What are the fees involved with probate? Read Part II of this series to find out.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
An executor's fee is the amount charged by the person who has been appointed as the executor of the probate estate for handling all of the necessary steps in the probate administration. Therefore, if you have been appointed an executor of someone’s estate, you might be entitled to a fee for your services. This fee could be based upon a variety of factors and some of those factors may be dependent upon state, or even local, law.
General Duties of an Executor
- Securing the decedent's home (changing locks, etc.)
- Identifying and collecting all bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds
- Having all real estate appraised; having all tangible personal property appraised
- Paying all of the decedent’s debts and final expenses
- Making sure all income and estate tax returns are prepared, filed and any taxes paid
- Collecting all life insurance proceeds and retirement account assets
- Accounting for all actions; and making distributions of the estate to the beneficiaries or heirs.
This list is not all-inclusive and depending upon the particular estate more, or less, steps may be needed.
As you can see, there is a lot of work (and legal liability) involved in being the executor of an estate. Typically the executor would keep track of his or her time and a reasonable hourly rate would be used. Other times, an executor could charge based upon some percent of the value of the estate assets. What an executor may charge, and how an executor can charge, may be governed by state law or even a local court's rules. You also asked whether the deceased can make you agree not to take a fee. The decedent can put in his or her will that the executor should serve without compensation but the named executor is not obligated to take the job. He or she could simply decline to serve. If no one will serve without taking a fee, and if the decedents will states the executor must serve without a fee, a petition could be filed with the court asking them to approve a fee even if the will says otherwise. Notice should be given to all interested parties such as all beneficiaries.
If you have been appointed an executor or have any other probate or estate planning issues, contact us for a consultation today.
Monday, February 23, 2015
A Discussion of Wills, Part 3: Beware of “Simple” Estate Plans
“I just need a simple will.” It’s a phrase I hear at least once a week. What could be wrong with that? This post explains the many common situations in which a "simple will" may not be a good fit for your family tells the cautionary tale of one family who relied on a will purchased at a stationary store.Read more . . .
Monday, November 24, 2014
What is a Successor Trustee
A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Defines a Successor Trustee and Explains Why You Should Have One
You did everything right. You sat down with a lawyer, paid her to draft your estate plan, created a living trust and named each other as trustees. But, the unthinkable happened and your spouse died before you did. You were so sure it would be you first. Your lawyer now explains that you are the successor trustee and that you must now administer your spouse's trust. What does she mean by a successor trustee? Read more . . .
Monday, November 17, 2014
What To Do After Death, Part I
Minneapolis Probate Lawyer: What is Probate?
I often explain to people that I am a "probate lawyer" only to be met with a blank stare. Occasionally, the statement "I don't know what that means" will accompany the blank stare. So, I decided to draft a series of posts under the "Probate" heading that will offer some general explanations and definitions. Hopefully, this will offer some guidance to those suffering a loss who aren't sure of their next steps.Read more . . .
Monday, November 10, 2014
How to Choose an Executor
A Minneapolis Probate Lawyer Discusses Selecting An Executor Post Mortem
The death of a loved one is a difficult experience no matter the circumstances. It can be especially difficult when a person dies without a will. If a person dies without a will and there are assets that need to be distributed, the estate will be subject to the process of administration instead of probate proceedings.Read more . . .
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
A Simple Will Is Not Enough
Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Explains the Minimum Documents You Need to Protect Your Family
I sometimes hear comments like "I just need a simple will" or "Why can't I just get my will on the internet"? I want to be clear that a basic last will and testament cannot accomplish every goal of estate planning; in fact, it often cannot even accomplish the most common goals. This fact often surprises people who are going through the estate planning process for the first time. Or worse, the family left behind finds this out when they attempt to settle a loved ones estate. In addition to a last will and testament, there are other important planning tools which are necessary to ensure your estate planning wishes are honored.Read more . . .
Thursday, May 29, 2014
What is Estate Recovery?
Minneapolis Estate Planning Attorney Explains Minnesota's Medical Assistance Program.
Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota, is a federal health program for individuals with low income and financial resources that is administered by each state. This program is intended to help individuals and couples pay for the cost of health care and nursing home care.
Most people are surprised to learn that Medicare (the health insurance available to all people over the age of 65) does not cover nursing home care. The average cost of nursing home care, also called "skilled nursing" or "convalescent care," can be $8,000 to $10,000 per month. Most people do not have the resources to cover these steep costs over an extended period of time without some form of assistance.
Qualifying for Medical Assistance can be complicated as it is governed by a combination of federal state laws/rules. Once qualified for a Medical Assistance subsidy, Medicaid will assign you a co-pay (your Share of Cost) for the nursing home care, based on your monthly income and ability to pay.
At the end of the Medical Assistance recipient's life (and the spouse's life, if applicable), the county who paid for care will begin "estate recovery" for the total cost spent during the recipient's lifetime. The county will issue a bill to the estate, and will place a lien on the recipient's home in order to satisfy the debt. Many estate beneficiaries discover this debt only upon the death of a parent or loved one. I have numerous clients who came to me upon trying to sell their parents' house only to learn - sometimes at closing - that there was a Medical Assistance lien on the property. In many cases, the Medical Assistance debt can consume most, if not all, estate assets.
There are estate planning strategies available that can help you accelerate qualification for a Medical Assistance subsidy, and also eliminate the possibility of a Medical Assistance lien at death. It is very important to consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your jurisdiction.
From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents estate planning and elder law clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park. The Minnesota law firm of Unique Estate Law focuses on all aspects of estate planning, including specialized wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives for married couples, young families, blended families, single parents, gay families and those going through a divorce. Unique Estate Law also handles probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, elder law, business succession planning, adoptions and cabin planning.