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Who should I hire to represent me and prepare and file the return?

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Summary:

The Internal Revenue Service cannot make recommendations about specific individuals, but there are several factors to consider.

Answer:

The Internal Revenue Service cannot make recommendations about specific individuals, but there are several factors to consider:

1. How complex is the estate? By the time most estates reach $1,000,000, there is usually some complexity involved.

2. How large is the estate?

3. In what condition are the decedent's records?

4. How many beneficiaries are there and are they cooperative?

5. Do I need an estate tax professional?

With these questions in mind, it is a good idea to discuss the matter with several estate tax professionals. Ask about how much experience they have had and ask for referrals. This process should be similar to locating a good physician. Locate other individuals that have had similar experiences and ask for recommendations. Finally, after the individual(s) are employed and begin to work on estate matters, make sure the lines of communication remain open so that there are no surprises during administration or if the estate tax return is examined.

Finally, most estates engage the services of both attorneys and CPAs or Enrolled Agents (EA). The attorney usually handles probate matters and reviews the impact of documents on the estate tax return. The CPA or EA often handles the actual return preparation and some representation of the estate in matters with the IRS. However, some attorneys handle all of the work. CPAs and EAs may also handle most of the work, but cannot take care of probate matters and other situations where a law license is required. In addition, other professionals (such as appraisers, surveyors, financial advisors and others) may need to be engaged during this time.

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