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How to Handle a Large Estate

The process of probating an estate can be stressful and challenging. If the estate is a particularly large one, additional and sometimes complex issues may arise, such as the following:

Defending against will contests and other claims

Higher valued estates are more likely to face litigation involving challenges to the will or other claims against the estate. For example, family members whose expectations were not met by the will can challenge its legality or beneficiaries may object to the actions of the executor or trustee. Usually, the estate bears the costs of the defense, and resources from the estate may need to be redirected for this purpose.

Gathering estate assets

The personal representative of an estate is charged with identifying, gathering, valuing and safeguarding assets for distributions according to the will. Large estates typically involve more assets and complex assets, including closely held businesses and other investments requiring a high level of skill, and more of the personal representative’s time and attention, to manage.

Assessing the value of costly items and holdings

If you are responsible for managing a large estate, the probate process may require you to involve experts to prepare appraisals for assets with high value. Appraisals are often needed for tax or probate purposes.

Managing asset distributions to minors

When a beneficiary is a minor, the personal representative of the estate must make arrangements for the management of the minor's inheritance until the person reaches adulthood.

Contending with estate tax issues

Estates valued at more than $5.25 million ($5.34 million in 2014) may trigger federal estate taxes. The applicable rate could be as high as 40 percent. Estate tax laws are extremely complicated, and you should speak with an estate planning attorney about options to minimize or eliminate those taxes.

Handling gift taxes

You must pay a federal gift tax on gifts worth more than $14,000 per person. With careful planning, this tax can be deferred or altogether avoided.

Gathering and valuing various assets, paying off debts, selling businesses, paying estate taxes, locating heirs and beneficiaries, and contending with disputes can take a significant amount of time to complete. Probating a large estate can challenge even the most financially savvy individual. An experienced Tampa Bay probate attorney can help you navigate the process.

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