Estate Administration involves the collection and management of assets when a person dies. When this occurs, all of the deceased’s assets or possessions—real estate, bank accounts, stock, automobiles, personal belonging, etc. become a part of the deceased’s estate. Estate administration refers to the process of collecting and managing the assets, paying bills of the deceased, handling any claims against the estate, and disbursing the remaining assets pursuant to the deceased’s will or if they died without a will pursuant to intestate laws.
Who is Responsible for an Estate’s Administration?
When the deceased left a will, the estate administration is the responsibility of the person who is named “Executor” within the will. If the deceased died without a will then a person (usually a family member or trusted friend of the deceased) serves as “Administrator”. We will often refer to the Executor or Administrator as a “Person Representative”.
What are the Responsibilities of the Executor or Administrator?
The Personal Representative is a fiduciary to the estate, meaning this person has a legal, ethical and moral obligation to serve the interests of the beneficiaries of the estate over their own self interests. A Personal Representative’s job is to collect the assets, prepare an inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, notify potential creditors, pay those necessary and legitimate bills of the deceased’s, prepare and file all final federal and state income tax returns of the deceased, file estate income tax returns, keep the beneficiaries informed and to make final disbursement of assets. The Personal Representative can have personal liability if they do not handle their job efficiently and according to the law. It is therefore extremely important to have a competent estate attorney to help navigate and guide the Personal Representative.
What is the process for an Estate Administration?
The Estate Administration process generally involves some or all of the following:
- Gathering information about the deceased’s assets and debts
- Hiring various professionals to assist with the estate:
- Notifying all beneficiaries of the estate and providing each with a copy of the will
- Preparing an inventory of assets and debts
- Publishing notice of the estate in the local newspaper
- Directly notifying all known creditors or potential creditors of the estate (this starts the “clock” so if a creditor does not timely file a claim they may lose all rights to that debt)
- Collecting life insurance proceeds if they are payable to the estate or there was no named beneficiary on the policy
- Collecting amounts owed to the deceased
- Paying bills of the deceased
- Settling claims filed against the estate
- Selling/liquidating assets of the estate (selling a home, liquidating stock, etc.)
- Preparing and filing final income tax returns (both federal and state) for the deceased
- Working with businesses of the deceaseds
- Filing income tax returns for the estate
- Making distribution of the deceased’s assets pursuant to the terms of the will or intestate laws (when person dies without a will)
The attorneys at BB&C have handled hundreds of estates, from the very simple and straightforward to the extremely complex. We work hard in providing comprehensive legal advice and to ensure you understand the estate process. We pride ourselves in being responsive to all your needs.
Send us a message or call us at 765-742-9066 to speak with an estate administration attorney today.
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