Simplifying The Estate and Probate Process

Losing a loved one is very difficult. The addition of finalizing his or her financial affairs simply adds to the heartache. At American, it's our goal to make this process as easy as possible. We’ve provided some steps you can take to ease you or your family’s burden prior to a death as well as a guide for after a death.

These are several things you can do ahead of time to reduce the amount of administrative work required of your estate’s personal representative:

  • Elect pay on death beneficiaries for bank and investment accounts. This may help reduce costs of transferring assets to a beneficiary. 
  • Elect beneficiaries for retirement accounts. Whether you have one or multiple beneficiaries or name a trust or charity as the beneficiary, be sure to consider how income and estate taxes may affect the amount received. 
  • Ensure all homes are titled correctly. Doing this will pass the asset directly to the correct party, allowing the asset to bypass the probate estate.
  • Pre-pay funeral expenses and make funeral arrangements. This will take the financial and planning burden off your loved ones as they grieve.
  • Complete an estate plan. This process can be as simple as making a last will and testament.
  • Keep a list of all your financial accounts. This ensures no accounts are forgotten when the family is gathering assets for the estate.

After the loss of a loved one, these are several actions you can take to ease the process of handling the estate:

  • Request more death certificates than you think you will need. It is likely you will need multiple copies to gain access to his or her financial accounts.
  • Hire an attorney to help navigate the court proceedings if probate is required and the option is economical. He or she will be able to help explain and guide you through the probate process. 
  • Hire a professional personal representative if economical. This can essentially eliminate the work required by the family.

Whether you are setting up your estate to reduce stress on your family when you pass or are handling a loved one’s estate, it is important to keep accurate records of finances and of the estate.

Having an estate plan can reduce the amount of taxes to be paid, ensure assets are distributed according to your wishes and provide liquidity for estate settlement expense. We work closely with you to make sure your desires are met. When the time comes, we can also serve as the personal representation to administer and settle your family’s estate.

Learn more about Estate Planning.

About Luke

A lifelong resident of North Dakota, Luke has been in the financial industry since 2017. His primary responsibilities include the administration of fiduciary accounts with a focus on personal trust, investment management and individual retirement accounts.

“I enjoy educating investors and helping them avoid the stress that comes along with money management.” With his experience, Luke is able to educate clients and find solutions to help with money management.

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