Estate administration is a necessary part of the estate planning process and can be very difficult if you are not prepared. Identifying the assets in a person's estate as well as managing those assets in the way a will or trust directs is crucial to carrying out the wishes of the deceased.
With the help of an experienced California estate planning attorney, the estate administration process can run smoothly, effectively, and with full confidence that your wishes are carried out.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is the process of valuing, identifying, managing, and distributing the assets contained in the estate of a deceased person. Estate administration can be handled by
- An executor, if a will names an individual;
- An administrator, if the person dies without a will (i.e., the decedent dies "intestate"); or
- A trustee, if the decedent's estate passes according to the terms of an inter vivos trust.
In any of the above scenarios, the person(s) administering your estate may wish to consult and hire an estate planning attorney, if they prefer experiences counsel to assist them with the administration.
Why Estate Administration is Important
Even with the best of estate planning, through the use of wills, trusts, health care directives, and power of attorneys, effective management after a person passes away is crucial. Creditors need to be paid, assets need to be distributed, and issues related to taxes and probate need to be handled. The process can be complicated, but with the help of an experienced attorney, the frustration and doubt can be stripped away.
Estate Administration Services
There are many different services provided as a part of the estate administration process.
After a person passes away, the assets left in the estate must be identified, located, secured, valuated, and distributed in accordance with the estate planning documents.
At the end of the estate administration process, all assets that were held by the estate will be legally transferred to their rightful new owners.
There is a specific process for notifying known and potential creditors, as well as paying off those that are owed money by the recently deceased individual. Debts are paid out of the estate assets, with any remainder to be distributed to the heirs, devisees, or beneficiaries.
Depending on how the estate has been planned, there will be taxes that must be paid as a part of the estate administration process. Estate taxes, gift taxes, and unpaid back taxes must be paid before estate assets can be distributed.
Tax law can be incredibly complicated, but you can rely on the services of your California estate planning attorney to make sure all taxes are paid correctly.
Reviewing Trust Documents
When trusts are a part of the deceased person's estate plan, following the terms of the trust is very important. Trust language can be complicated, but with proper help, the decedent's wishes will be followed to the letter. As part of this review process, sub-trusts can be created to make sure that assets are distributed correctly and efficiently.
Explaining Trustee Responsibilities
When a person is named as trustee, he or she often does not really know what is involved in being a trustee. There are certain legal duties that exist, and the trustee is expected to follow the terms of the trust. If you have been named a trustee, there is no need to worry. With the sound legal advice, you'll follow the terms of the trust with confidence, and fulfill your legal duties with ease.
Consult a California Estate Planning Attorney
Estate administration is a crucial part of finalizing a person's estate, paying debts, and distributing assets. While the process can be complicated, with effective legal counsel you will confidently administer the estate, and fulfill the wishes of your lost loved one. California estate planning attorney Lauren Rios has years of legal experience that she will put to work for you.
She represents clients throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Contact us today.