J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Estate administration begins after Lou Reed's death

Many Florida residents like to feel like they are in control of their lives-and their money. For many people, this desire extends beyond their deaths. Having worked to accumulate money and assets over a lifetime, they want to make sure that it is distributed in the way they intended. Planning for careful estate administration can help achieve these goals and facilitate the process.

After Lou Reed's death last October, it has been determined that the value of his musical rights and other assets equals more than $20 million. The assets include copyrights and interests in musical publishing, as well as other things. His will was filed shortly after his death and it is now known that he left his money and assets to his wife and sister. In his sister's bequest, he specifically notes $500,000 to care for their mother.

After a person's death, the process of probate or estate administration begins. This is a process supervised by the court that ensures the accurate identification of assets, payment to creditors, and distribution of assets to beneficiaries. A personal representative of the decedent-either a person named in the will, a spouse, or someone named by the beneficiaries-will begin the process of probate. It is very important that the personal representative administer the estate and probate correctly because they are liable for their actions. For this reason, it is both wise and required by law for personal representatives to have legal counsel.

Although probate occurs regardless of whether a decedent had a will, the process is often much simpler and many probate issues can be avoided if the decedent had the assistance of an experienced attorney when drafting his or her will. If there are confusing or unclear provisions in the will, or if there are disputes between the beneficiaries, the probate process and personal representative will need to resolve these issues. The assistance of an attorney during this process can help prevent it from dragging on longer than it should and help ensure that the probate complies with the decedent's wishes.

Source: USA Today, "Lou Reed's estate worth over $20M, executors say," July 1, 2014

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