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Haste can make waste in estate administration

West Palm Beach residents know that the death of a family member often leads to a period of turmoil and confusion. Still, for those who are charged with managing the estate, a multitude of details and decisions can crop up on short notice. In addition to making funeral arrangements, probating the will and consoling loved ones, the estate executor must also address a broad range of financial details. Even though the processes of estate administration can sometimes feel overwhelming, executors need to remember to slow down and seek assistance before taking action that could result in unnecessary expenses.

It is recommended to take care of certain priority tasks as soon as possible after a loved one's passing. These duties include admitting the will to probate and making sure to set aside enough money for the living expenses of a surviving spouse or children. But once those priority tasks are accomplished, greater attention should be paid to decisions related to distributing estate assets and transferring financial accounts. For these kinds of decisions, it is best to slow down and carefully weigh the options.

In the rush of activity surrounding the early days of estate administration, executors too often make choices that have unforeseen effects. For example, immediately transferring a retirement account to a surviving spouse may eliminate the opportunity for the spouse to disclaim the account assets. In certain circumstances, disclaiming such an account can effectively pass the assets to children and save on inheritance taxes.

What may seem like the most logical estate administration decision may not be the most advantageous one. Floridians charged with handling the estate of a loved one should know that not every decision needs to be made with haste. Seeking advice from an estate administration professional before transferring or distributing assets can help avoid unnecessary tax consequences as well as maximize the benefits for survivors.

Source:, "Hasty decisions can be costly when a loved one dies," Eleanor Szymanski, June 17, 2012

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