Transferring property to the beneficiaries after the demise of a loved one can be complex. It may bring about family disputes, and a probate attorney is essential. Probate administration is a legal process whereby a deceased person’s estate is distributed among the beneficiaries. The process may involve various steps such as identifying and gathering the deceased person’s assets, also paying off any outstanding debts and taxes.
Steps involved in estate administration
- Obtaining a death certificate
Obtaining a death certificate is the first step in the probate process. You want to prove the said person’s demise and can only show this through a death certificate. The document is necessary when initiating the estate administration process, and you may have to share a copy with the probate attorney.
- Identifying and securing assets
Securing assets is yet another critical step. The estate administrator should identify and secure the deceased’s assets. These mainly include bank accounts, real estate, and other personal properties. You must also gather information from financial institutions and government agencies to know of unpaid debts or taxes.
- Appointing an administrator
An administrator is handy in the estate administration process, they are responsible for managing the deceased’s assets and debts. The executor also ensures that the deceased’s wishes are carried out as required and beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to.
The court appoints an executor or administrator to manage the estate during estate administration. This happens if there is no will or if the named executor cannot serve.
- Filing a petition with the probate court
Filing a petition with the probate court initiates various legal processes required to settle the deceased person’s affairs and distribute their assets. During the process, the court validates the will and appoints an executor or administrator. A petition with the probate court also helps apraise the assets and payment of debts and taxes.
- Creditor notification
The administrator should notify all the deceased person’s creditors and settle their debts using the estate’s assets. This varies between states and jurisdictions and involves publishing a notice in a local newspaper or sending notices to known creditors. The notice should include details like;
- Name of the deceased person
- The date of death
- Instructions on how to file a claim against the estate
- Paying taxes and debts
The estate may be subject to taxes, and the administrator should file the necessary tax returns and clear taxes owed. During probate, the deceased’s estate is evaluated for outstanding debts and unpaid taxes. These should be paid from the estate assets before the property is distributed to the listed beneficiaries.
- Asset distribution
Once all debts and taxes are paid, the administrator distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries listed in the will or determined by state law. Distribution of assets during probate will depend on different aspects, including;
- The type of assets involved
- Whether the deceased left a valid will
- Probate state laws
- Final accounting
The final accounting is the last step of estate administration. The administrator will file a final accounting with the probate court, detailing all financial transactions related to the estate administration process.
In summary, estate administration involves various legal steps, and you can make costly blunders without an attorney. It is advisable to engage a skilled administration lawyer to guide you in the process.