Estate Administration

In the wake of losing a loved one, determining where to start with respect to their estate can be an overwhelming and burdensome task. Some assets may be easily transferred to beneficiaries, as is often the case with life insurance or retirement accounts. Others may be more complicated and require the assistance of the probate court to transfer the title.

The process of creating an inventory for the estate and properly allocating the estate’s assets to beneficiaries and creditors is known as administering the estate.

The first step in this process should be to simply determine if your loved one left a will and, if possible, find the original copy. Assuming there is a will, it should nominate someone to act as the executor. It will be the executor’s job to begin creating an inventory of the estate. This refers to the estate’s assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and collections. The estate also includes the decedent’s debts, such as credit cards or medical debts. Depending on what assets and debts the estate contains, it may be necessary to probate the estate.

Probating or administering the estate first involves having the will (if any) adopted by the court and an executor appointed. The executor will then determine the heirs, take possession of and conserve the real and personal property of the decedent, create and file an inventory of the estate’s assets, receive and determine the validity of all claims against the estate (i.e. creditors), file tax returns and pay any income and estate taxes, distribute the estate’s assets to the correct people, and finally file an accounting of all receipts and disbursements with the court.