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How can an estate accountant help you?

An estate accountant can be a helpful partner in dealing with paperwork, creating tax-minimizing strategies, and ensuring all tax returns are taken care of.

Estate accountant

Settling an estate is no task for the faint of heart. From dealing with beneficiaries to itemizing and assessing the value of all assets in the estate, the work can really get overwhelming. Settling an estate also includes dealing with a lot of paperwork and taxes.

After all, when you settle an estate, you, as the estate executor, are responsible for filing the right tax returns, including any outstanding income tax returns the deceased may have had, a terminal tax return, and an estate tax return if the estate generated income during the probate period. That’s a lot to keep track of!

While smaller estates can certainly be handled on your own, it gets tricky once an estate has assets, such as real estate or investment accounts, in different states or even abroad. If the deceased had outstanding tax returns at the time of their death, all those different forms and required payments may get overwhelming quickly. That’s where an accountant who specializes in estate taxes can come in handy.

Filing Estate Tax Forms with Compliance and Expertise

One of the main jobs of an estate executor is to stay on top of all the paperwork that comes with settling an estate. From paying outstanding bills to filing the right tax returns on time, an executor’s job entails a lot of loose ends. This is where an estate accountant can really help out.

They can take over the task of filing the deceased’s final income tax return, take care of any previous outstanding tax returns, and file an estate tax return if the estate has been generating income through real estate or other investments. Since some states and provinces require you to file a separate tax return in addition to a federal one, having an expert who’s knowledgeable about the location-specific laws can give you the peace of mind of knowing that all bases are covered.

Furthermore, an estate accountant will ensure that everything is filled out and submitted correctly and in a timely manner. Anyone who’s done their own taxes knows how stressful the process can be, even if your tax situation is pretty straightforward. You’re always a bit worried that you’ve itemized something wrong, or forgot to declare an important item. Imagine dealing with this when you have an estate worth several thousand dollars on your hands!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, an accountant can also help oversee the sale of assets, help manage financial accounts that are part of the estate, and manage the estate’s bank account where debts are paid out and deposits are made.

Assisting Beneficiaries with Inheritance Tax Returns

We usually think of estate accountants as primarily helping estate executors, but an accountant can also help out beneficiaries currently navigating the process of receiving an inheritance. A trained accountant can assist with any questions regarding outstanding tax returns, and can advise on whether inheritances need to be included in returns and what remains tax-free.

Implementing Tax Strategies to Minimize Estate Taxes

While we’ve covered how an accountant can help an estate executor manage the duties of settling an estate, an estate accountant can also be useful during the estate planning stage by suggesting strategies to minimize the estate’s tax burden when the settlement process comes along.

Specifically, an accountant will be able to tell you how much estate tax the estate will have to pay on assets that have generated income, such as real estate and investment portfolios. They’ll also be able to tell you about possible exceptions and deductions, including significant tax breaks for including monetary donations in wills and creating life insurances or trusts with named beneficiaries to help cut down on the estate’s overall tax burden.

An estate accountant can be a valuable partner during trying times. However, this all comes at a price. An estate accountant can charge several thousand dollars for their services, which can really take a chunk out of an inheritance. Here at ClearEstate, we have professional experts who can take over the entire estate settlement process for you, from the early probate stages all through to the filing of the final tax returns, at a fraction of the price of what other professionals charge for just one service. Curious to learn more? Get in touch today for a free consultation.

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