While it’s never easy to lose a loved one, the legal demands of trust and estate administration can make a loss even more arduous. Each estate’s executor (or administrator) must identify and collect the decedent’s assets, some of which are not readily apparent. The executor must also file a Notice to Heirs, an inventory of the decedent’s estate with the Circuit Court, and may be required to file annual accountings with the court.

The process can be daunting and requires familiarity with individual and fiduciary income tax laws, filing appropriate tax returns, and satisfying tax obligations including those that are outstanding. For example, if a decedent failed to file a current income tax return for which tax is due, the executor may be held responsible for assets distributed prior to paying taxes. The firm of F. Hunter Hampton can guide you through the complex probate process and assist with any one or more of the following duties.

  • Probate wills
  • Estate administration
  • Trust administration
  • Ancillary proceedings for assets outside the decedent’s domiciliary state
  • Identify and locate assets including unclaimed funds
  • Sale of assets and distribution of assets “in-kind” to beneficiaries
  • Preparation of the decedent’s final income tax return
  • Preparation of the executor’s fiduciary income and estate tax returns
  • Preparation of accountings for the estate
  • Litigation for contested wills, contested assets, removal of an executor, spousal elective share, and trust termination or modification

Many of the unwelcome tasks associated with trust and estate administration, as well as litigation and disputes, can be avoided with advance estate planning. Alternately, post-mortem planning can provide the opportunity to negotiate agreement among beneficiaries to settle a dispute through a binding Beneficiary Agreement. Post-mortem planning can allow an executor to take advantage of available tax-elections including electing to carryover a decedent’s unused estate tax exclusion amount to the estate of a surviving spouse.