13 Mindy Hetzel - What to Accomplish in the First Four Months

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On our thirteenth episode of #ProbateNavigated we stop by to visit with Mindy Hetzel.

Mindy Hetzel is the Commissioner of Accounts of Loudon County. Appointed in Dec 2013 by Loudon County circut court, she also maintains a private law practice as an estate and trust attorney with the Leesburge law firm of Hanes and Dickerson. Prior to being appointed as Commissioner she served as a Loudon County Deputy Commissioner of accounts for 7 years.

In this important episode Mindy covers what you must make a priority in the first four months of resolving an estate. Additionally, Mindy covers what to avoid, and the best resources that people can derive great benefit from.

What are the most important things to accomplish in the first 4 months?

  1. Identify the assets

  2. Marshall the assets

  3. Safeguard the assets

Identifying the Assets — Obtain as much information as you can. Take your time and be meticulous because you can be liable for mistakes made.

  • Get mail forwarded

  • Get bank statements and bills

  • Get all financial statements. Get bank statements at date of death

  • Get access to their home

  • Get an idea of tangible personal property

  • Look at check registers to determine if there is a recurring expense.

Marshall the Assets -

  • Go to your bank

  • Make sure account is kept open for mortgage payments

  • Open an estate account to avoid mingling funds

  • Make sure that bank 1) doesn’t charge a fee for statements, 2) there’s no low balance fee 3) they return checks.

  • Understand what your responsibilities and rights are under the will or without a will

  • What to do if you don’t have the power to sell or don’t have a will.

  • If you do have the power of sale you want to 1) make sure you have vacant homeowners insurance 2) pay the mortgage 3) have new locks on doors 4) ensure safety of property

  • Make sure you keep the property in status quo position. Don’t let the property deteriorate.

Safeguard the Assets

  • Make sure to keep the property in the shape that it is in.

  • If you do have the power of sale you want to 1) make sure you have vacant homeowners insurance 2) pay the mortgage 3) have new locks on doors 4) ensure safety of property

Value the Assets

  • Get appraisal on personal property or real estate

  • Vehicles — KBB

  • Get professional appraisals for items like antiques and jewelry

  • Start a list for inventory of assets. This inventory is a list of every item the decedent had. This one is one of the easier documents.

What are the biggest mistakes fiduciaries consistently make?

  1. Co-mingling estate assets. It’s a logistical nightmare. Don’t do it. Open an account, put money in it, and only use that account.

  2. Tangible personal property and real property

  3. Not filing with us on time or not giving us a call when there is an issue.

What are some bad recommendations that you consistently hear?

  1. Hiring the wrong attorney or accountant. Make sure they are very familiar with the probate process. Some of Mindy’s worst stories come from attorney’s and CPA’s that aren’t’ familiar with probate. Make sure, if you hire a professional, that they’ve done this work before.

  2. Be very aware that the individuals you are hiring are doing work that YOU CANNOT do. Every professional you hire you are reducing your fiduciary compensation.

What are you favorite resources for people going through Probate?

  • Get through the probate information packet. It will give you an overview that will make everything much easier.

  • Jack Rust commissioner of accounts has a great website.

  • Due dates — print those out immediately and put that on a board somewhere so you keep this in mind

You can connect with Mindy below:

P | 703–777–5300

W | https://www.loudoun.gov

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