My own layman’s guide, born of my own experience and observations – Part 4
Expenses are easy. They happen under your control. You get to write them down as they happen.
The hard part is spending the money in accordance with the will and the law. There will be all kinds of reasons to break protocol, so to speak. There’s always an heir with a sob story. Somebody might need a loan. Somebody might propose perfectly rational non-stated items to spend on, or a perfectly rational alternative distribution schedule. Don’t do it! Stick to the script. The script was written by the deceased, in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey: as executor, your job is to follow through.
The first major expense is the funeral. This will be detailed in its own article, following.
The second major expense could be called professional help, that is, attorneys and accountants. This topic has its own article, too.
Some estates provide for a commission to the executor. Yup. This one will be in a subsequent article all by itself.
The next category can be called paperwork. You will need to probate the will at your county Surrogate’s office, and there will be a fee. The Surrogate will also charge a fee for each Short Certificate that you need. Don’t chintz out on this one. Maybe you’ll end up with a few extra, but that is better than having to go all the way back to the Surrogate’s office for one more. I don’t know about your county, but in my county, Burlington, the parking and the office are not convenient to one another. And since the office is in the courthouse building, you also have to run the fun security gauntlet.
But I digress.
You will also need death certificates, and, yeah, there’s a fee for each of these, too. Again, estimate high. Some funeral directors help with this step.
Of course, any appraisals for assets would be legitimate expenses.
Other miscellaneous expenses would include paying the deceased’s debts. This includes final medical bills as well as other bills. Yes, you need to pay off the credit cards.
You need to pay whatever is necessary to keep up the assets until they are liquidated. This could include grass mowing (maintenance) and furnace fixing (capital repair.)
Sadly, some assets may need to be hauled away because no one is interested in the broken down old Ford or the closet full of moth eaten coats. Haul-away and disposal fees are also legitimate. Of course, they should be reasonable. If the local dump charges $50 to haul away the car, don’t try to pad the expenses with a $500 charge because you hired your kid to do it.
There could be upkeep on mortgages. There could be supplies for cleaning. There could be expenses for postage or banking.
One other thing – if the bank where you keep the estate bank account wants to charge you a nominal fee for those teeny tiny pictures of cancelled checks, go for it. Sooner or later you will need to do an accounting, and this documentation is likely to help big time.