The estate administration process typically begins whenever the decedent passes away. After the death, the executor or other family member will open the estate of the deceased. This occurs by filing an official document with the court system. After the document is processed, the court will then appoint an administrator for the estate, which is typically an attorney. This individual then becomes responsible for the deceased individual's estate; and for the administration of the estate and any assets or accounts that the deceased left behind.
The duties of the estate attorney will vary depending on what type of assets the deceased has left behind. Typically, this includes defending the deceased against lawsuits, dealing with creditors, managing the estate and assets, and identifying and locating the beneficiaries that are listed on the will of the deceased. The estate administrator is only able to pay debts or taxes to the government and creditors using the assets of the estate.
It is possible for an estate administrator to be removed from the responsibility of administration of the estate due to the following reasons: embezzlement, neglect of the estate, inability to execute his or her duties, and the individual presenting some type of threat to the estate. For this reason, it is important to hire a professional estate attorney so that these unfortunate circumstances can be avoided.
Estate administration attorneys are excellent resources that can be utilized to assist with legal questions, concerns, or issues that may arise while dealing with administration of a deceased individual's estate. These attorneys can assist with petitioning to remove an estate executor, changing who holds the power of attorney, and much more.
In most situations, estate administration attorneys are responsible for obtaining the deceased individual's will and ensuring that the executor follows all the wishes outlined in the will. This includes ensuring that the beneficiaries all receive the assets, accounts, property, items, or monetary amounts that they are legally entitled to. The attorney is also responsible for following through on any other requests the deceased has made in his or her will.
If there was no will created before the individual passed away, the estate attorney will be responsible for guiding the deceased's family or beneficiaries in the proper procedures. Because the attorney will be knowledgeable in the state laws regarding estates, this professional will become a valuable resource. It is important to adhere to the state estate laws in the event there is no will because the laws outline the proper procedures that should be followed.
Because wills can sometimes be quite complex, the family or beneficiaries of the deceased may begin to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what the next step they need to take is. Estate attorneys are capable of guiding you in the right direction, relieving your stress, and even handling the administration of the estate for you. Each individual should assess his or her situation to determine if hiring an estate attorney would be the appropriate decision for his or her family in their unfortunate time of need and confusion.
RELATED: Read about the responsibilities and duties of probate estate administrators.