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We realize how emotional this time can be. It’s even that much more aggravating when lawyers ask you to sign legal documents, CPAs ask for information to complete the tax returns, and financial advisors want to reposition the investment portfolio. These are the people that you least want to deal with. But there are time deadlines, and what these professionals are asking you to do will likely have a real economic effect on you and the other beneficiaries. That’s where The Estate Settlement Program™ comes in. As your legal team we do the heavy lifting while you remain in control as the personal representative (executor) or as the trustee of the trust.

Assuming that your loved one’s assets were titled in his trust, you will avoid probate. But if you are the trustee, you shouldn’t distribute the assets before taking care of all of your legal responsibilities, such as clearing creditors, paying taxes and ensuring that the distributions are correct given your loved one’s most recent document and amendments. We will lead you through The Estate Settlement Program™, which is our trademarked 7 module process designed to meet all of your legal responsibilities.

There may be a little or there may be plenty, depending on each individual file. Once you assume the role of trustee, you have personal liability to fulfill all requirements imposed on you by the law. This includes making sure all of the assets are accounted for, tax cost basis is adjusted, properties sold or distributed, correct IRA RMDs established and a host of other issues. If, for example, you make full distribution to the beneficiaries closing out the administration before completing these tasks, and a legal obligation or unforeseen taxes arises, you are personally responsible to pay for that obligation out of your own pocket, even if the beneficiaries won’t refund you their proportionate share of the inheritance to pay for the obligation. The Estate Settlement Program™ walks you through this process to minimize the chance that these problems arise.

As trustee and/or personal representative, you have legal responsibilities to fulfill before making distributions to the beneficiaries. We inform all of the beneficiaries of the expected distribution timelines. Communication setting expectations is vitally important, and coming from your legal team it often bears more weight than coming from the family member chosen to act in a fiduciary role. This is where the 7 module Estate Settlement Program™ serves to let everyone know what steps need to be completed before the estate or trust is distributed.

The estate or trust will pay the legal fees and costs associated with the administration. The fees and costs are tax deductible to the estate.

We found the legal team to be outstanding professionals, exceedingly knowledgeable, extremely thorough and expeditious, easy to understand, and very warm and caring. Without reservation, we enthusiastically recommend this wonderful team of advisors.
Tom & Ellen K., Fort Myers, FL
My wife and I began working with the Sheppard Law Firm in 1999. Initially, Craig Hersch helped us with an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust and related gift tax issues. The relationship grew into complete estate planning… something I always assumed would be “pretty far down the road.” Tragedy befell our family when my wife, Cathy, was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2015. The family was devastated and the last thing we had on our minds was dealing with the complexities of estate issues- legal, tax and financial. Craig had put a comprehensive plan in place. I challenged him about a number of my concerns, and you know what, everything Craig had put in place made the entire process effective and efficient, which was very important to me during this difficult time. Craig’s legal assistant, Aimee Balcer, was also a huge help to my entire family throughout the process. The Sheppard Law Firm is truly a great team to have working with you on estate planning.
Ted B., Fort Myers FL
Craig Hersch and his associates did a great job settling my father’s estate. We are most appreciative of their efforts. We also established a personal relationship through this process.
James D., Atlanta, GA
Craig Hersch has been my father’s attorney for many years. So it was with confidence that my family turned to him after our father’s passing to handle any legal concerns in the settlement of his estate. From the beginning, as the Personal Representative, I found Craig Hersch and his team to be thorough and helpful, all in a timely fashion, throughout the process. An initial conference was arranged to understand the family’s needs, to explain how the process would unfold and the specifics of how the firm would help manage the various steps. Communications from then on were regular, prompt and to the point, with additional conference calls bringing in all pertinent players arranged as needed. I highly recommend the Firm to anyone seeking thoughtful and experienced help through a similar situation.
Lynn F., Tarpon Springs, FL

Craig and his team did a very thorough job which was well thought out and executed.  He took the time to guide us in all phases.  He brought clarity to a complex situation.  Follow his advice, the process is worth your time and effort.

Roger S., Fort Myers, FL

It seemed as though everyone’s goal was to make everything as easy and comfortable for us as possible.

Judith P., Fort Myers, FL

My husband recently passed away and all of this was new to me.  Chris and his team were kind, patient and extremely helpful.  They made every effort to explain everything in simple terms and made sure that I was comfortable with each step and understood everything.  I would recommend this office to anyone needing their services.

Linda C., Fort Myers, FL

When my mom passed away, it was a very upsetting and confusing time.  Luckily she had the foresight to consult with Michael Hill and had introduced us to his law firm and staff.  The process of settling the estate and trust went smoothly and Mr. Hill took care of every detail (including working with our out-of-state holdings and banks).  We were so thankful for his professional approach and his assurances that we are having him handle our estate and help our children in the same way he helped us.

Bob & Judy E., Ocala, FL

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March 2018

  • Two Hats

Two Hats

When my children were young, I used to read Dr. Seuss books to them. One of their favorites was The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. You may remember the plot where the devious cat

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.