Q: Mom passes intestate in Fairfax Co VA, how can I file her final tax returns after the POA ends?
All assets were liquidated into a POD account years ago, all current income taxes, funeral costs, and debts have already been paid. Only final taxes on bank interest, a modest Social Security income, final IRA distribution costs and the POD account will remain when Mom passes. Does the estate have to go to probate, and If not, under what authority do I file Mom's final returns? Is there anything I can do now before the POA ends to pave the way for filing the final returns and if not, what can I do?
I'm not from Virginia, am reading as much as I can but I'm very upset, not thinking clearly, don't want to make mistakes and just want to focus on Mom. The POA allows delegation of powers so can I hire and pay an attorney or CPA now to do the filings after Mom passes? Is that even necessary or possible and a solution to the dilemma? Thanks!
A: I'm sorry for your loss. You may not have to do very much as everything was POD. And that included 'probate'.
I suggest you consult an attorney - in Virginia - to advise you and reassure you of where you are. Elder Law attorneys are familiar with estate law and procedure - you can find one at www.naela.org - use the zip code lookup to find one in the area.
Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer
A: To give you a decent answer, I'd need to review the complete list of assets to determine whether any probate assets will survive your mother. As you suggest, your focus should be on your mother, and I agree with Mr. Hart that you should turn the details over to a Virginia lawyer. If there really is nothing there, it might be a fairly short retention of counsel.
Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer
A: If I can understand the POD as Payable on Death account, then this is typically something that is non-probate. It sounds like there are just some financial matters to handle that an executor or CPA should be able to address without probate. Probate is used to interpret wills and to process specific types of property. If you don't have a will or probate-eligible property, then the probate process is unnecessary in Virginia.
Without confirming there aren't other types of property, it appears you may be able to avoid probate. One of the easiest things you can do that is free is check with the local circuit court where your mom resides. Check out the USPS website to see if she's technically residing in Fairfax County, and if so, then the circuit court there is the probate division.
Social Security benefits may be transferable to certain survivors, but you'd need to explain more about relatives (spouse, children and their ages/disability status, grand children, etc.). Otherwise, you would just have to return the money/not cash the check during the month your mother passes.
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