When a person dies without a will then the legal personal representative is known as the “administrator”. This is commonly the closest relative, although that person can renounce their right to be Administrator in which case the right moves to the next closest relative.
This often happens when parents or grandparents are first in line to become the administrator but renounce their rights as they are old, don’t have knowledge of estate law and feel that someone else is better suited to the task.
The appointment of an administrator follows a codified list establishing priority appointees. Classes of persons named higher on the list receive priority of appointment to those lower on the list.
Although appointees named in the will and relatives of the deceased frequently receive priority over all others, creditors of the deceased and ‘any other citizen [of that jurisdiction]’ may act as an administrator if there is some cognizable reason or relationship to the estate.
Alternatively, if no other person qualifies or no other person accepts appointment, the court will appoint a representative from the local public administrator’s office.
Probate and Estate Administration
Following a loved one’s death, their estate often goes through probate or estate administration. This court-managed process usually involves the managing and distribution of the deceased’s assets.
Probate or estate administration might be unnecessary if your loved one owned their assets through a properly funded and well-drafted living trust.
The duration of the entire process depends on state rules, the size and complexity of the estate, and the probate court schedule. Estate administration begins after the initial probate filing has been made.
The Process of Probate and Estate Administration
Although each probate is unique, the administration of an estate generally involves the following steps:
- Filing a petition/application with a probate court.
- Sending a notice to the heirs.
- Appointing an Executor (named in the Will) or Administrator (no will) for the estate.
- Identifying the estate assets of the deceased
- Paying estate debts, taxes, bills, or necessary expenses
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries (named in a Will) or heirs (when there is no Will).
The Administrator of a probate estate should be a resident of the state who is appointed Executor in the will, or a next of kin if there is no will.
The Executor or Administrator can decide to administer the estate themselves or hire a Celina probate and estate administration lawyer to do it in their stead.
After a professional estate administrator is hired, they:
IDENTIFY THE STATE ASSETS OF THE DECEASED
Finding and securing the assets of an estate is the first step of probate administration. This may involve looking for vital documents like insurance policies and financial statements. Your Celina probate and estate administration lawyer could also look through the online listings of unclaimed funds.
This should help turn up property not included in the estate like real estate that is jointly owned or life insurance proceeds.
ACQUIRE A FEDERAL TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
Following the initial probate filing, an administrator receives a letter of authority. This is a court order that acknowledges their authority to handle the affairs of the deceased party. Next, the Administrator should obtain a federal tax identification number and use it to open a bank account for the estate.
The estate bank account will hold the estate’s financial assets. All records involved in this process should be presented to the court by a Celina estate planning attorney.
PAY ESTATE DEBTS, BILLS, OR NECESSARY EXPENSES
The estate administrator can access the estate bank account. From there, they can pay funeral, hospital, credit card bills, or other debts. They can also meet expenses that are imperative to the maintenance of the estate, such as utility bills.
Before paying any bills, however, the Administrator will establish their validity. A Celina probate and estate administration lawyer will also make preparations for relevant tax filings.
DISTRIBUTE THE ASSETS TO THE BENEFICIARIES
The distribution of property to a deceased person’s heirs follows the Will if there is one. If there is no will, you will use a specific formula provided in the Ohio Revised Code. Because of the complexity of this interstate formula, it is wise to let your Celina estate planning attorney handle it.
Why Should You Work with a Celina Probate and Estate Administration Attorney?
The death of a loved one can be a devastating and overwhelming event. Getting professional counsel and representation can help take some stress out of estate planning. It could reduce your responsibilities enough to allow you to spend time with your loved ones.
If you are in charge of handling an estate, consider hiring an estate planning attorney for the following reasons:
- Professional Representation Any lawyer can handle a probate and estate administration case. However, Celina probate and estate administration lawyers are dedicated to probate cases. Over the years, we have gathered extensive experience in dealing with these cases. We are well attuned to the rules, procedures, and complications associated with probate cases and can navigate them to give you positive results. Do not hesitate to call us with your probate and estate administration case.
- Less Chance of Making a Mistake Probate and estate administration is governed by many laws and legislation. As such, there is a high chance of making a mistake, especially if you lack experience. Most of these errors come with a financial or legal liability and could land you in trouble. They include failing to:
- Identify all assets belonging to the deceased
- Pay creditors
- Distribute property to all the heirs
- Perform other critical estate planning tasks Leaving the estate administration task to a professional probate attorney absolves you of any blame should something go wrong.
- Minimal Disputes Estate affairs can get heated. Sometimes the cases could trigger disputes that result in litigation and court cases that take months or years to solve. The time spent in court can eat into your family time significantly. It could also accumulate legal fees and reduce the deceased’s estate value. An estate planning attorney can handle your estate planning professionally and effectively. Because of their unbiased modus operandi, they can also get you a timely result and reduce any chance of disputes.
- Prudent Execution Although you can administer an estate on your own, it will take a lot of trial and error. The resolution may be not only untimely but also inefficient or imprudent. Probate and estate administration lawyers have extensive experience administering estates. We can handle all the details efficiently to give you a quick resolution. With us in your corner, you can better direct your time towards being with your family.
- Time-Efficiency After the death of a loved one, your family needs you. Nonetheless, the process of estate administration can draw out for months. From court proceedings to gathering documents, you could spend a considerable chunk of your time away from your family and friends. Hiring a probate attorney allows you to sit back and take it easy. Should anything require your attention, you will be notified.
- No Legal Expenditure After your case is finalized, the court approves probate legal fees and pays them out of the estate’s proceeds. As such, you don’t need to worry about your estate planning attorney’s fees.
You Need a Celina Estate Planning Attorney
Administering an estate involves a myriad of responsibilities. The situation is even more complicated in the absence of a will. Eddie Cawlfield, the Celina estate planning attorney at the Cawlfield Law Firm, can help expedite the process, minimize your burden, and allow you more time with your family.
Our competent counsel can help smooth your probate and estate administration process. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. You can call or email us to schedule your initial appointment or discuss any topics of concern.