Individuals and couples with very large estates face a number of complications during the probate process. Common issues that arise include:
- Gathering assets. The executor of a person’s will is responsible for gathering assets for probate. This process is more complicated when there are many types of assets titled in different ways such as property owned individually and jointly and assets held overseas.
- Assessing the value of expensive items and holdings. Those managing the estate during the probate process may need to call on experts to appraise assets of significant value for probate and tax purposes.
- Contending with estate tax formalities. If the value of your estate is more than $5.25 million, federal estate tax at a rate as high as 40 percent may apply. New Yorkers or U.S. citizens owning property in New York may be liable to pay state estate tax for property with a gross value exceeding $1 million.
- Dealing with gift taxes. Federal gift tax applies to money gifts exceeding $14,000 per person and property and the rights to use property or receive the income it generates if the decedent received nothing or less than the full value in return.
- Distributing and managing assets for minors. If there is no trust set up for a minor beneficiary, arrangements must be made to manage the inheritance until the minor reaches the age of majority. If no trustee was appointed, these assets must be managed by a custodian under New York laws, or the child’s finances must be put under court-supervised guardianship.
- Defending the estate from a will contest. If the value of an estate is high, an increased likelihood of the will being challenged exists. In such cases, resources may need to be directed to defending the will’s provisions.
- Coping with a prolonged distribution process. When there are varied assets to gather and value, debts to be paid, businesses to be sold, estate taxes to be paid, heirs and beneficiaries to locate, and possible disagreements with which to contend, the probate process can take considerable time to complete.
Probating a large estate can be an overwhelming challenge for even the most financially savvy individuals. If you have been named executor of a will or are next of kin to someone who died without one, contact an experienced New York estate administration attorney for advice and assistance.