EstateExec Reveals the Truth Behind "Great Expectations"

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New estate executor service launches to help average people (or even the children of Robin Williams) handle death and estate settlements of their close relations.

EstateExec Will Bequest Dialog

EstateExec Makes the Executor's Job Easy

It's like Quicken for estate executors

Almost everyone becomes an executor at some point in his or her life (for a spouse, a parent, or even a close friend), and yet almost no one is prepared for the burden ... largely because most executors are first-timers. EstateExec is a new online solution that helps executors organize the process and communicate with everyone involved.

According to the CDC, almost 2.5M people die in the United States every year, and by law, their estates must be settled (debts paid, assets distributed). Usually this burden falls to an executor named in the will, but if not, state law usually assigns an executor by family relationship.

Stories abound concerning grief-stricken families being preyed upon by unscrupulous funeral homes, and so states have attempted to provide some degree of protection with transparent pricing rules and so forth. Similar stories abound concerning estate settlement issues, and so a number of states have also passed laws limiting the amounts that lawyers can charge (although these limits usually amount to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars). Perhaps the most famous illustration of this problem lies in the celebrated novel "Great Expectations", by Charles Dickens, in which the entire estate is consumed by bickering lawyers. In a modern-day version, we need look no further than the current bickering over the estate of the late Robin Williams*.

Fortunately, EstateExec has just launched its new consumer service for estate executors, providing a cloud-based solution for the first-time executor. It includes a customized task list that helps an executor through the various steps, explaining what to do after someone dies, covering everything from notifying the Social Security Administration to filing estate taxes and making distributions to heirs. At only $79 per estate, executors won't be in any danger of a "Great Expectations" outcome!

The company is quick to point out that they don't provide legal or tax advice, and that their software is merely a productivity aid. In fact, the bulk of the offering is designed to help an executor actually manage and deal with the estate itself. Just reading the will is only the beginning of the executor process: an executor still needs to sort through all the assets of the estate, decide which ones to sell, keep the others in good shape, pay off debts and ongoing expenses, decide asset allocations to heirs, and more. It's not really that complicated, but it sure is nice to have an easy-to-use tool to help keep track of it all.

Think of EstateExec as "Quicken for estate executors". There's a central cash registry where one can track the income and expenses incurred by the estate, plus lists of assets and debts. When the executor sells an asset, for example, the program marks it complete, records the proceeds in the cash registry, and makes it unavailable for distribution to heirs. The executor can start to divvy up assets by heir, and filter the tables to see the totals assigned to each heir so far. If desired, the executor can export his or her work into PDF documents, or even comma-separated-value (CSV files), which can be imported into other programs such as Excel.

One nifty trick is that EstateExec takes advantage of its cloud-based nature to allow executors to grant estate access to other people, such as a probate lawyer or even the other heirs. The executor can grant read-only access, or full edit access if they are going to be working on things together. Sadly, in the aftermath of a death, rifts often develop between the heirs and the executor when the heirs don't know what is happening, and start to imagine the worst. EstateExec offers the kind of modern transparency that helps reduce tensions and keep everyone on the same page.

A number of people do hire lawyers to help them with the overall estate settlement process, but just as when one hires an accountant to do ones taxes, one still ends up having to do a lot of the preparatory work oneself. The core of EstateExec is still useful in these situations, and in fact, the sharing feature is ideally suited for this kind of cooperation.

EstateExec offers a free 10-day trial for new customers, and volume discounts are available for law firms who specialize in helping estate executors through the settlement process. See http://www.EstateExec.com for more details.

*Difficulties with Robin Williams' estate settlement as noted on CNN Money on March 30, 2015 (http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/30/news/robin-williams-wife-kids-court).

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Dan Stickel
EstateExec
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