One of the most important decisions you will make when you are considering preparation of your Last Will and Testament is appointing an estate administrator. An estate administrator is this person who will be responsible for settling your estate upon your death. This person must be someone who can be trusted to make important decisions for the good of your loved ones.
It is a common practice for client’s to designate a family member as their estate administrator. Although this is a logical choice, it is not always the best choice. If there is tension in the family appointing a member of the family could create more difficulties and may eventually lead to contested issues.
The estate administrator is required to perform many services and also works closely with the probate attorney/estate planner. Once administration of the estate begins, the estate assets can’t be sold or distributed to heirs and beneficiaries unless authorized by the court.
Estate administration requires the descendant’s death certificate, Last Will and Testament (if available) and an itemization of assets of the estate. These items are presented to the probate court and if necessary, an appraisal of the assets is completed to determine the values of all the property.
The administrator may be required to notify all the creditors and make arrangements to satisfy the decedent’s debt. The court may order assets to be sold if the deceased does not have adequate liquid assets to offset the debt. Probate lawyers are highly skilled in negotiating debt and it is best to consult them on such matters. Creditors under certain circumstances may be willing to accept partial payoffs and write off the remaining balances.
These are just a few of the duties/requirements required for estate administration. Every estate is unique and will have different needs. Inheritance property may transfer to beneficiaries within 9 to 12 months.
It is recommended that you designate two estate administrators in the last will and testament. If the primary administrator is unable to fulfill duties, the second (alternate) administrator can assume the role. It is best to consult with the individuals you are considering to ensure they are willing and able to assume the role of estate administrator.
Working with an attorney experienced in estate matters will benefit you in preparing a will, various powers of attorney, advanced directives and other documents that will protect your assets and make your wishes clear to those who survive you. Likewise, using an attorney for estate administration can assure that all legal requirements are met and that issues are resolved promptly and effectively.