I was recently involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, since it was my first accident, I was scatter-brained and anxious. What I did not realize at the time was that the actions you take immediately after the accident can affect a personal injury case and the outcome of that case. I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and mistakes with other. Since the Internet is so popular, I figured this would be a great way to do so. While you likely aren't planning on being in an accident soon, if you are, hopefully you remember some of the tips I share on this website.
When a loved one dies, there are a number of important steps you need to take to administer their estate. These steps can be very complex, so you may want to have an estate administration attorney guide you. Here's what you can expect.
What Is the General Process for Estate Administration?
Estate administration is collecting, managing, and distributing a deceased person's assets. Each state has different laws governing probate, but generally, the state where the decedent resided at the time of death governs the probate process.
The estate administrator will need to issue notices, ensure debts are paid off, and then make sure each heir receives what they're entitled to.
What Does the Executor Do?
Executors are people who oversee the estate administration process. Each estate usually has an executor appointed in the will. If there isn't a will, then an administrator is chosen by the probate court to administer the estate. If the probate is complicated, the executor hires an attorney to help them out.
The executor is often a family member. They may or may not also inherit under the will. In some places, the executor is also entitled to a fee set by the court to compensate them for the work that they do.
Does the Executor Have to Pay Off Debts?
If a person who dies owes debts to creditors, those debts aren't erased. The estate is responsible for the debts.
The estate has to pay the debts before it can pay the heirs. For example, if there are $100,000 in debts and $100,000 in assets, the heirs get nothing even if they were left $100,000 in the will. If the debts exceed the estate's assets, the executor doesn't have to pay those debts personally.
Is Probate Always Required?
Probate is the legal process of administering a will. Therefore, probate is a mandatory part of most estate administration. For simple estates with good documentation, the probate process can go very quickly. In more complex situations, an estate administration lawyer may be needed.
What If There Is No Will?
If there is no will, the estate still has to be administered. Also, without a will there are legal default rules that are used.
Each family member gets a certain percentage of their estate based on their relationship to the deceased. The estate administration process then follows these rules as if those were the instructions left in the will.