When it comes to administering the estate of a family member, there are many factors that need to be considered. We will walk you through all of the scenarios that you will need to address, and assist you as needed along the way.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate Administration is the process of settling the affairs of a deceased and passing his or her property to the beneficiaries. In summary, the steps of an estate administration include:
The process to probate your last will and testament will be undertaken by the estate’s executor. The probate process can be quite lengthy. This process includes proving the validity of the will, as well as providing the courts with a list of your assets, debts, and a list of people who will inherit what is left.
Appointment of Executor
The Executor of your estate has a very important job. He or she is are responsible for ensuring all of your wishes (as laid out in your will), are followed. Depending on your state, there may be limitation to who you can appoint (for example, some states have decreed that your executor must reside in the same state as you). When you set up your appointment with us, we will go through all of these details with you.
Payment of Estate Debts and Distribution to Beneficiaries
This is the biggest undertaking that your Executor will face. Once the Executor provides the court with a list of your assets and debts, your Executor will need to contact all of your creditors to notify them of your passing. Before any money can be distributed to your named beneficiaries, your estate debts must be paid. If there is not enough cash available to pay the debts, the Executor will have to decide which assets to sell in order to satisfy the payments of the debts. Once all creditors have been cleared, the remaining assets in your estate will be distributed amongst your beneficiaries.
Federal Estate and State Death Tax Returns
Your taxes will still have to be handled by your estate after your passing. Estate tax laws are in place to tax your estate’s assets before they transfer hands. In addition to Federal Estate Taxes, there are also state death taxes that will have to be paid out of the estates assets. Our team will oversee the completion of these returns.
Prepare and File Interim and Final Estate Accounts
In order to “close” the estate, there are a number of filings that may need to take place. A final account must be prepared and submitted to the courts. There are also notices that need to be filed with the court before any final asset distribution can take place. When the final account is prepared, there are many errors that could occur if a professional is not handling it. There are legal requirements that must be followed, and if they are not, this will hold up the closing of your estate and the distribution of your assets. Our team has the knowledge to prepare and file any interim and final estate accounts.
Appear in Court on Motions
While administering your estate, there may be motions called by the probate court. If the judge has questions or concerns, or beneficiaries are in a dispute, there may be a motion called to discuss options. As the lawyers in charge of your Estate Administration, we will appear in court, and work to make sure your final wishes are respected.
Dealing with the dispensation of your estate will be emotional for your family. If you set up your estate, and address as many issues as you can, then there will be no need for emotional scenes amongst your family members. You have worked hard to build up your assets, and you want to make sure they are divided as per your wishes. If there is no will in place, it is up to the courts (who have never met you) to decide how to divide your estate.