What is Probate Administration?

Probate administration is a complex process that can be very time consuming for an executor or administrator unfamiliar with the process. Typically, an executor or administrator should seek counsel of an experienced estate attorney to provide guidance and protection from adverse claims in the future, and to ultimately complete the administration.

For estate administration, the process involves the filing of petitions and reporting to the court through the probate process. Certain tasks are time sensitive, and should be addressed quickly. Some of these administration duties include:

  • Obtaining a death certificate for the deceased person
  • Develop a proper record-keeping system for accounting and reporting to the beneficiaries
  • Provide notice to creditors of the deceased person and ensure that any valid debts are paid
  • Notify the Social Security Administration of the deceased person's death
  • Notify the Department of Health Care Services of the deceased person's death
  • Provide specific notices to the heirs at law of the deceased person and the beneficiaries of the estate
  • Locate and marshal (collect) all property belonging to the estate
  • Inventory and appraise all property belonging to the estate
  • Ensure the proper management of all estate property 
  • Properly invest and diversify the assets of the estate for the benefit of the beneficiaries
  • Obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number for the estate
  • File and prepare the deceased person's final tax return
  • File and prepare a tax return for the estate assets
  • Distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will, if any, or pursuant to the laws of intestate succession.

While this is a simplified list of your duties as an executor or administrator, acting as an executor or administrator is far more complicated and time consuming. Furthermore, since you have fiduciary duties that you owe to the beneficiaries, such as protecting the estate property, you are always at risk of legal claims by the beneficiaries if you make a mistake, take action which may constitute self-dealing, or take other inappropriate action. Because this is a probate administration, it also involves much more particularized rules as to when you can take action, and if you do not follow these procedures, you may be subject to sanctions from the court.

Retaining an experienced estate attorney is imperative in estate administrations to ensure that you administer the estate in accordance with the law and that you are carrying out the wishes of the deceased person as set forth in his or her will, if any.

If you are dealing with an estate administration and would like to have a free legal consultation regarding the estate administration, you may schedule such a consultation with our office.

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