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Probate and Estate Administration

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By Fate Kersey
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How does probate and estate administration work

The estate administration process involves gathering, settling and distributing everything a deceased person owned. A New York probate lawyer can handle all aspects of this process and make sure that essential Court and tax deadlines are met.

It is important to note that inherited property may only be distributed after the executor has settled the estate’s debts and claims.

Gathering Information

Many people have assets and debt at the time of their death. Estate administration lawyers specialize in closing out these affairs – with the help of probate attorneys, of course.

During the probate process, an executor must identify all of the property that is subject to probate. That usually involves diving into banking and investment account statements, tax documents and more. It may also require obtaining appraisals for real estate and other valuable assets.

In addition, the executor must track down any creditors of the deceased and collect any amounts owed by the estate. Creditors typically have a limited window of time (approximately one year) to make a claim against the estate for money they are owed. Once all of the estate’s debts are paid, the assets can be distributed.

Inventorying Assets

When a loved one dies, executors must handle many tasks including filing paperwork, taking inventory of assets and property and paying off debts. Understanding these processes and having expert legal tips can help make the job more manageable.

The probate process is a court-supervised way in which someone’s estate is settled and outstanding debts are paid. This requires submitting a detailed inventory of assets to the court.

This list must include all financial assets such as bank accounts (with date-of-death balances), investment portfolios, savings bonds and Certificates of Deposit. It also should include a complete listing of any real property with address, legal description and copy of the deed. This can be a long task, but it’s important to take care of this early on.

Notifying Creditors

When a loved one passes, they may leave behind unpaid debts. This includes taxes, medical bills, and mortgages. The estate’s executor is responsible for settling debts before distributing assets to heirs. This involves sending notices to creditors and giving them a time frame to file claims with the estate.

Usually, this is done by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. This alerts creditors that their loved ones have passed and that the probate process is underway.

Once the creditors are notified, the executor can settle or reject each claim. If rejected, the creditor can take the matter to court. However, most debts are settled during the probate process. Assets that pass outside of the estate through joint tenants with rights of survivorship, life insurance policies, and retirement plans typically bypass the probate process.

Filing Paperwork

Probate is the process of admitting a will into probate or naming someone to administer the estate in the absence of a will. This includes filing an inventory with the court, paying off debts and distributing assets.

This means locating everything the deceased person owned and determining how it was titled, such as bank accounts, real estate, vehicles and jewelry. It may require some sleuthing, such as reviewing checkbooks and emails. It’s also important to consolidate the estate funds, so bills and bequests can be paid from a single account for transparency.

Finally, creditors must be notified and given the opportunity to file claims against the estate. This is required by most states. However, there are some assets that pass outside of probate, such as property that’s titled with joint owners, a life insurance policy with named beneficiaries or accounts in a revocable living trust.

Accounting

The assets of a deceased person are used to settle debts and final expenses, and remaining funds are distributed to heirs. This process is overseen by the state’s probate court.

An executor or administrator of an estate must prepare an accounting. The process involves converting all assets to cash, paying legitimate debts and distributing the remaining funds to beneficiaries.

A CPA who specializes in tax preparation can help with the accounting process. For example, they can advise the executor on the timing of certain deductions or credits to minimize income taxes owed by the estate.

Being an executor or beneficiary of an estate is often a difficult job that requires major time commitments and meeting unfamiliar legal requirements. An experienced attorney can help walk you through these steps and ensure that everything is done properly.

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