Probate Administration

The probate administration process allows for the effective management and distribution of a deceased individual’s assets.  The probate administration process is overseen by the probate court. The probate process deals with administering a deceased person’s (“decedent”) estate through the probate court. We can help you understand the probate process and guide you through it.

When a person dies, they either have a will (“testate”) or they do not (“intestate”). The probate process generally begins by filing the decedent’s will with the probate court. The will determines the distribution of assets during the probate proceeding. If there are no objections to the will, the person(s) named as the executor or personal representative serves to represent the estate. The executor will collect the assets of the decedent, pay the debts of the estate, and distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the will. If no will exists, or if the will only covers part of the estate, then state law will determine who the beneficiaries are and how the estate is distributed.

Typically, the probate process includes the following steps:

1) The will is filed with the probate court.

2) An executor or personal representative is appointed if there is not one named in the will. If a decedent does not name an executor or if a named executor is unable or unwilling to serve as executor, then the probate court will determine who will be the personal representative or executor of the estate. This person is entitled to collect a fee from the estate for the work performed and may have to post a bond with the probate court.

3) Identify heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, and others and notify them about the deceased individual and the creation of the probate estate.

4) Inventory and appraise the assets of the estate (as needed).  The executor or personal representative must inventory all property to determine the value of the estate. If the estate lacks sufficient assets to pay off creditors, then beneficiaries may not receive some or all of their inheritance.

5) Pay any taxes owed, creditors and distribute assets to the beneficiaries. Creditors, including the IRS and other tax authorities, receive payment according to a priority order. Any funds left over after the creditors and the expenses of administration have been paid are them distributed among the heirs according to the will of the requirements of the law.

The probate administration process is not always a simple one.  Sometimes complications arise. Using an attorney  experienced in probate and estate administration will help make the process efficient and cost-effective, even when no formal proceedings are required. An attorney will help you avoid mistakes in administration and minimize the risk of being held personally liable for a decedent’s debts. Also, the legal fees are paid out of the estate or trust.

Using an attorney is especially important if it is unclear who should receive the decedent’s assets or if there is conflict among the heirs or beneficiaries. An attorney will also help you determine which assets are not subject to the probate process. Assets such as life insurance policies (and proceeds), property owned through a living trust, and property and accounts titled with survivorship rights generally do not pass through probate. J.W. Krueger Law, LLC attorneys advise beneficiaries and fiduciaries such as executors, administrators, guardians, and trustees, in all aspects of estate and trust administration.

The Attorneys at J.W. Krueger Law, LLC Can Help You Navigate You Through A difficult and Sometimes Confusing Part of Your Life.

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Attorney Eric D. Valente

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