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The Executor's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Settling an Estate for Executors, Administrators, and Beneficiaries Paperback – June 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Highly recommended..." - Library Journal"

About the Author

Theodore E. Hughes is a retired Michigan state assistant attorney general and a lawyer who specializes in wills, trusts, and estate planning. David Klein was professor emeritus of social sciences at Michigan State University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Checkmark Books; 3 edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081606668X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816066681
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
[Book review I wrote for an earlier edition of this book.]

After reading this book you can probably be an executor for an estate without hiring an attorney (assuming no legal documents have to be prepared or filed in court). I found this book in the reference section of the Westfield Pubic Library (NJ) along with its companion book: A Family Guide to Wills, Funerals & Probate (ISBN: 081604550X). This book was written for an executor to read, and the companion book concerned much of the same material but for the decedent to read before he or she dies.

I thought this book was great, and that it will help an executor gain a grasp of his or her responsibilities when administering and closing a decedent's estate. It is written without legal jargon. Have you ever had to administer an estate and gone to an attorney for help? Did you expect the attorney to tell you about your duties and delegate as much of the work to you as possible? And did you find the attorney did a lot of work you think you could and should have done? Well, if so, then this book probably could have helped you talk to the attorney and have more worked delegated to you.

This book is as comprehensive as it needs to be to educate an executor about his or her duties. When those duties can be complicated, the authors explain the basics so an attorney can be consulted to provide legal services. Keep in mind that many estates can be settled without any legal help being needed. Thus, I recommend an executor read this book before ever seeking an attorney for help, guidance, or services.

The edition of the book I read was hardbound and very pretty. There was an index of terms in the back of the book. However, I would have liked the book better if there had been a glossary of terms back there, too.
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Format: Paperback
Not only is this a first rate guide for someone who wants to do his best for the beneficiaries of a will or trust, but it also an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to identify and repair the weak points of his own will or trust. There is also a short, but detailed summary of how to prepare a proper Letter of Instructions for the executor of your own estate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book because I have been appointed the executor for my father, and I needed to know what was expected of me and what he and I needed to talk about. So this book has been a great help in getting our conversation started. However, this should not be the only source of information. The main thing I learned from this book was that being an executor is more complicated than I thought, and much of the work needs to be done BEFORE the person dies! There are so many conversations about money, belongings, people, wishes and desires that need to be discussed, and this does not even begin to include all the medical questions one might need to cover!!! So, if you are being asked to be an executor prior to the death of a person, GREAT, because you can now use this book - and others - to sit down and make some plans.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At least once in your life, and probably more, you will need this book. I do not say this often, but you must buy this book and keep it on your bookshelf.
At some point in your life, you will either write a will, be a beneficiary of someone who has died, or be appointed as the executor of an estate for someone close to you who has died. This book will be your experienced companion telling you what is happening and what you are required by law to do.

The advantage of this book over others is that it gives you a solid procedure to follow in administering and closing an estate for someone who has died. My father died with such a small estate and an IRS bill to boot, that a formal or informal probate was not necessary: I used the `transfer by affidavit' procedure. Even still, my official `to do list' occupied an entire printed page. This book will lead you through this process.

My main criticism is the chapter on taxes. It has much info about Estate taxes, but is woefully inadequate about the nuts and bolts of dealing with the IRS: take the author's warning seriously, that the vast majority of your time and effort in dealing with an estate has to do with the IRS.
You will need to:
**get an EIN for the estate
**file form 1041 for the estate
**file form 56
**file all back tax forms 1040
**file, if necessary, a final 1040 for the year of death
**apply for accelerated determination of final taxes and release of liability for the executor
Because I had no access to my father's info, I had to file 4868 for an extension of 1040 until I could get a handle on my dad's financial affairs.

My duty as personal representative is not over yet, so stay tuned for further details. Nevertheless, I have already found this book to indispensable that I cannot do without.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I speak from the experience of having successfully probated my mother's estate--without a law degree--using only this book and another called "The Executor's Guide: Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust" by Mary Randolph, as well as a CPA. It can be done!

Here is an undisputable fact for you to consider: fees erode an estate. The price of purchasing two books through Amazon is substantially less than the $255 per hour I paid out the last time I used a lawyer back in 2006.

Here is my key to success: nobody must complain. The case was assigned as unsupervised, informal administration. This meant that I would not have to go in front of a judge unless someone complained to the court. If I could keep the law clerks and the court's compliance department happy, then I just had to make sure that I paid all of the creditors and kept the beneficiaries happy. Success seemed possible!

Above all, make sure that you pay the court their fees on time! I actually did this, but I waited until the last day. For some reason, the paperwork did not rattle its way through the system quickly, and I got a letter from the court stating that I was delinquent. They later admitted over the phone that everything was ok. The tone of a delinquency letter from the court is the exact opposite of a Valentines Day card. It is designed to make an impression on you. I do not think that you will enjoy reading it!

I do expect to be an executor again, and whether I will try to get through probate myself without a lawyer will depend upon the complexity of the situation, including how amicable are the beneficiaries and whether all the creditors will get their money. This book has much excellent general advice to executors--even if they do use a lawyer--so it will still be of use.
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