WHAT IS ESTATE ADMINISTRATION?
Your loved ones wishes, in your hands
Estate Administration - also known as the Probate process - is the process all estates must undergo. This process happens before assets are distributed to beneficiaries pursuant to the decedents will or, if there is no will, pursuant to the laws of intestate succession. If there is a will this process will be managed by the Executor, otherwise it will be the responsibility of the Administrator once they are officially appointed to the role by the court.
The Executor or Administrator - also known as the Personal Representative - is considered a fiduciary, meaning they have a sworn duty to always act in the beneficiaries best interest. If they do not, they may be sued.
Keep reading to learn more about the Estate Administration process.
WHY DO YOU NEED AN ESTATE ADMINISTRATION ATTORNEY?
Estate administration can be complex, with paperwork, deadlines, accounting, and legal rules that offer little room for mistakes. There is a risk of financial harm in the case of misconduct or negligence, and this can result in delays and threats to the inheritance of the beneficiaries.
The role of the Executor or Administrator involves many responsibilities, including inventorying the assets of the decedent, preserving any of the decedents properties, satisfying obligations to creditors, and litigating on behalf of the estate. This list is not exhaustive, and the support of an Estate Planning attorney may be vital in managing these and other obligations that arise as part of the Estate Administration process.
Determining is the decedent had a Last will and Testament is one of the first responsibilities of the Personal Representative. Interpreting the will may be challenging to those without extensive legal and estate planning knowledge, so connecting with a supporting attorney is vital at this phase of the journey. While working with an attorney you'll be able to seek clarification on any questions you may have, and connect with additional legal support should you need to petition the court for further clarification.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE EXECUTOR
Executors and Administrators have a responsibility to handle the decedents financial obligations, including their debts, taxes, and other periodic accountancies required to share with beneficiaries.
Additionally, they must abide by certain fiduciary duties or risk a breach of duty claim. Some of these duties include acting in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times, avoiding conflicts of interest, avoiding impartiality by favoring specific beneficiaries, providing beneficiaries with accountancy and other information about you administration, making distributions to all beneficiaries in a timely fashion, and many more.
This process can be overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. By connecting with an attorney you trust, you can task them with handling these responsibilities on your behalf in a legally-sound manner.
Making timely distributions to beneficiaries is one of the final steps of the Estate Administration process. This responsibility may seem straightforward, but it frequently is not. Distributions may be fraught with tax complications and other issues, and the support of a skilled attorney may be essential. Your attorney, a tax advisor, and you will work together, and ensure all distributions are correctly allocated to each beneficiary.