Upon a person’s passing, certain legal and financial matters need to be addressed regarding their estate. The handling of these matters is referred to as Estate Administration, which includes dividing and distributing the decedent’s assets to beneficiaries or next-of-kin.
Whether you’ve been chosen as the personal representative for a loved one’s estate or have recently had a family member pass away without having established a Will, DK Rus is here to provide guidance, empathy, and trustworthy legal advice in all aspects of estate administration.
Estate Administration Happens With or Without a Will
When a person passes away, there are legal responsibilities that need to be carried out regarding their assets, debts, and financial accounts. If the person made an estate plan before death, it is likely that the person responsible for carrying out the decedent’s wishes postmortem has already been designated via a Last Will and Testament. If the decedent does not have a Will or estate plan in place at the time of their death, an estate executor or administrator will need to be appointed in order to settle the decedent’s final matters.
Without a will, the designated executor handles the distribution of property according to state laws and the decedent’s directions as documented in the Will. When a Will has not been established prior to death, or is found to be invalid, the estate is administered according to common law.
Handling Responsibilities as an Estate Administrator
As an administrator or executor of someone’s Will, you should understand the estate administration process and what it may entail before the process begins. Knowing your legal responsibilities will allow you to more effectively fulfill them when the time comes to execute the will. The tasks you will need to complete will depend on the specifics of the Will and estate, but will likely include some or all of the following:
- Gathering information regarding the deceased person’s assets and debts.
- Collecting and preparing an inventory of the decedent’s assets.
- Addressing requirements established by the Probate Court.
- Notifying debtors/creditors of the person’s death.
- Acquiring any credits owed to the decedent.
- Filing final income tax returns for the decedent.
- Filing final income tax returns for the estate.
- Communicating with beneficiaries regarding their collection of life insurance or retirement savings.
- Distributing the decedent’s assets according to their wishes as stated in their Will.
Seeking Help from an Estate Planning Attorney
Each of the above responsibilities can come with complications that may overwhelm and lengthen the administration process, which is why it’s extremely valuable for estate administrators to seek guidance from a Maryland estate planning attorney. Being designated as the personal representative or executor of someone’s Will often means that the person believes you to be trustworthy and capable of settling their affairs after they pass away. Fulfilling your promise to them by properly administering their estate is an easier process when you work with DK Rus Law.