What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is the mechanism for dividing a person’s property among the heirs or those named in the will. Generally, when a person creates a will, they will list someone as the administrator of their estate. For those who are married or in domestic partnerships they will usually name their spouse or partner as the executor to administer their estate and name an alternate. Often, the lawyer who drafted the will is named the alternate.
What is the Process for Estate Administration?
The process for Estate Administration begins when your loved one passes away. Often, the law firm that drafted the person’s will, will produce the will and submit it to the court and mail a copy to the person named executor in the will. If the law firm is not in possession of the original will, whoever is in possession must submit the will along with a petition to the probate court. Assuming the will is uncontested, which means that there is no lawsuit claiming the will is invalid, one of the witnesses needs to submit an affidavit that they signed the will and it is valid. This is not needed if there is already an “attestation clause” from one of the witnesses in the will. After this the will is then admitted into probate. If the will provides for everything to pass to the spouse upon the deceased’s death, then many of the following steps may not be necessary.
After probate is opened and a representative or executor is appointed, the person appointed should apply for increased authority under the Independent Administration of Estates Act. This gives increased authority over the administration of the estate to the executor or court appointed representative without having to obtain court approval for certain actions. It greatly reduces the time and money needed to administer an estate.
After completing this, the next step is to inventory and appraise property listed in the will, pay or contest any judgments or creditors of the estate, pay any relevant estate or income taxes, and finally determine and facilitate the division of assets to those listed in the will. This entire description of estate administration assumes no lawsuits against the estate or contests of the will. Even with a normal estate administration the process can be complicated and confusing at times. If you need help in the administration of an estate, please, do not hesitate to contact me at (310) 598-7191 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can determine the best path forward.