If you are appointed to serve as an estate representative, you will be responsible for a variety of tasks. One of those tasks will be to ensure that the assets inside of the decedent’s Missouri estate are distributed in a timely and proper manner.
Is a beneficiary designation attached to the asset?
In some cases, tangible assets will pass to their intended recipients per the terms of beneficiary designations. It isn’t uncommon for homes, cars and similar items to pass in such a manner. A bank account, life insurance policy or retirement account may also transfer to a beneficiary based on the instructions included on this type of document.
You may need to coordinate with other parties to transfer an asset
Say that a decedent’s will instructed you to transfer a brokerage account to that person’s oldest child. In such a scenario, you would likely need to confirm with the brokerage that holds the account that the transaction is legitimate. In some cases, the individual who is taking ownership of the account would need to sign documents affirming that he or she is the new owner of this asset. It may be necessary to go through a similar process in the event that a will instructs you to pass individual stocks, bonds or other securities to a beneficiary.
What happens if a beneficiary has already passed?
If the primary beneficiary has already passed, check the will to determine if an alternate beneficiary has been named. In the event that there is one, this person will inherit a portion of that deceased person’s estate. Otherwise, the item will revert back to his or her estate. An estate administration attorney may be able to help with the process of determining what to do with items that have no clear recipient.
It may be a good idea to hire an attorney to help you administer an estate. Doing so may reduce the risk of making a mistake that could expose you to personal liability. An attorney may also represent the estate if a legal dispute arises.