Do I need a tax ID to settle my Dad's estate? - AgingCare.com

Do I need a tax ID to settle my Dad's estate?

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Mom died in 2006. I was placed as power of attorney for my Dad's financials. He died in 2013. I need to request final monies from his investments, insurance, death benefits, etc. so that I can split it with my Sister as he has requested in his will. I was told before I could do that I needed a tax I'd for his estate. Plus I was told after his death my POA is no longer valid. Is that all correct?

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thankgoodness he had a will. OK so are you named his executrix in the will?

i'm assuming you are and my answer is based on that. First of all, please do NOT feel that you need to do all this and right now. There probably is no rush to do anything except for the funeral. If dad has a home and there is a mortgage issue, then maybe open probate asap or you go ahead and front a couple of months of mortgage payments. But I bet this isn't the case, my guess is that dad has maybe a couple of life insurance policies, a couple of bank accounts and pretty busy brokerage accounts. You can take your time to deal with all this, really truly.

Second, your state laws on death and probate are going to be very very important in what you have to do. Some states allow for a small estates affadavit rather than going through full probate and then other states allow for a "muniment of title" to be done rather than going full probate. I've been executrix twice, both full probate. 1 estate we ran the full 4 years allowed. it was a hot mess but quite the learning experience. But before you open probate, you need to determine just how big of an estate dad has as you may be able to settle things outside of probate

So…. what to do, I would suggest that you:
- get at least a dz. death certificates. The FH can do this for you or you can order them from the state. If dad seems to have like 8 accounts / policies you will need to deal with, then get a dz. You want maybe 5 extra as somebody always want's one and they rarely send them back. Make sure that you keep a record of payment as this will be a reimbursable expense to you as the executrix.
- get SS death benefit. Usually the FH will take care of this. The amount is small about $ 250.00 and often family signs it over to the FH towards the bill. FH doing this is pretty standard but you can contact SS on your own.
- get all his bank account documents. Are any accounts POD - pay on death? If so, whomever is listed for the POD needs to go to the bank and close them out and get the money, that $ is theirs and is outside of whatever in his will and outside of anything probate too. For the other accounts, speak with a bank officer. Be nice & look organized. Now if you were dad's POA, they probably will be OK for you to look at the accounts to see if there are any automatic payments being made. If so, you need to contact those to see what they are for and figure out how to continue to pay for them. Now if the bank accounts were solely in his name and signature, they are probably going to be frozen till probate is done. Ask for a copy of the last statement on all accounts, you need this to determine how big of an estate you will be dealing with. If some of the accounts have you as the signature, the bank should allow you to keep the accounts open but renamed as an "estate of" account. Personally I would keep all the accounts open for a couple or a few months as he may have checks or payments still outstanding. SS does a clawback of the last month if they did not live the full month.
- now find the life insurance policies. Check to see who the beneficiary is. Hopefully they are still alive. There should be a section as to how to redeem. Do a letter to insurance company, that you are the executrix and will be opening probate but you want to go ahead and collect on the policy & include an original death certificate.This should be a short simple letter - I would send it certified mail. Most insurance companies will get back to you pretty quickly with a couple of documents that the beneficiary has to fill out and then they get a check (you can request that it comes to you but will be in the beneficiary's name - if you are handling everything, I would do it this way and make a copy of the check. Family can get weird…..)
- for the brokerage accounts, call his broker(s) and introduce yourself. Are you somewhat familiar with his approach to investing? if not, then you could be in for some surprises. His broker could well have been someone he spoke to almost daily. If his broker has been performing well, personally, I would take my share and get my portfolio started using dad's approach to start.
- get all his bills together and do a list (for probate)
- If he has credit card bills, they get a death certificate and a letter stating that he is deceased. CC are unsecured debt so they rarely get paid.
- Medical bills can take months to clear out of insurance & Medicare co-pays. Most states has some sort of requirement to pay up to a certain amount or # of months of medical before death if the estate has the funds.So you need to make sure there is money to be able to cover this.

Then do a + & - tally of what his estate is to determine what type of probate needs to be done (if any). Probate attorneys charge either flat rate or a % of the estate. Some states allow you to do probate on your own; other states require an attorney. Google your dad's state to see what's what. The broker will have names of estate & probate attorney's, if you don't know any. If dad had a home or a car, you are going to have to do probate or another type of legal action to be able to transfer the property. But realize that you do not have to do everything now, take your time.
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Sounds correct. I believe on death, the POA is no longer valid. If there is not a will the court will appoint an administrator. Generally a child / grandchild. In the case of my MIL, there were 5 surviving children and each child had to agree to appoint the administrator which turned out to be my husband (i.e. me, I do the paperwork). Yes you have to get a tax id for the estate; the estate is an entity and similar tax liabilities and requirements.

If there is a Will and you are the Executor/Executrix, then you will still have most of the same responsibilities but generally do not have to provide reporting to the Probate Court. State laws may vary but the Federal Estate requirements are the same everywhere.

Hope you find this helpful.
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