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Estate Administration

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Proper Estate Administration

The process through which your estate is passed on to your heirs after your death is known as probate. When you want to ensure that your property is divided properly and to your exact specifications, call Mark G. Aberasturi, Attorney at Law.

Navigate the Probate Process

The emotional trauma of losing a close family member is painful enough. Unfortunately, it also comes with the frustration of the financial and legal steps the survivors must take. The spouse who is left may have to handle the finances. It may fall upon a surviving child to navigate the probate of an estate, even with little to no knowledge of the probate process.

Even worse, the estate itself may be scattered among many different accounts, especially for a generation that saw the banks collapse during the Great Depression. For help through this confusing and sometimes frustrating process, call Mark G. Aberasturi, Attorney at Law to handle it.

Steps of Estate Administration

  1. File the will and petition with the probate court to be appointed as an executor or personal representative. If there is no will, any heirs must petition the court to be appointed an administrator of the estate.
  2. Marshaling, or collecting the assets. This is the process of finding everything your loved one owned. You are going to need to file a list, known as an inventory, with the probate court. We recommend you consolidate all of the estate funds, to the best of your ability. All bills and bequests should be paid from a single account, either one you have established or one set up by your attorney, to track your expenditures.
  3. Paying bills and taxes. If there is a need for an estate tax return (if the estate exceeds $675,000), you must file this within nine months from the date of death. If you miss this deadline and the estate is taxable, you may incur severe penalties and interest. If you don't have all the information available in time, you may be able to file for an extension and pay your best estimate of due taxes.
  4. Filing tax returns. You must also file a final income tax return for the deceased. If the estate holds any assets or earns interest or dividends, a return must be filed for the estate as well. If the estate does earn an income during the administration process, you must obtain a separate tax identification number for the estate to keep track of earnings.
  5. Distributing property to heirs and legatees. In general, executors don't payout all of the estate's assets until the period for creditors to make claims has run out. This can be as long as a full year after the date of death. After the executor understands the estate and the likely claims, they may distribute most of the assets, retaining a reserve for any unanticipated claims, along with the cost of closing the estate.
  6. Filing a final account. The executor of an estate must file an account with the probate court listing any income to the estate since the date of death, along with all expenses and estate distributions. Once the courts approve the final account, the executor can distribute any remaining reserves and finish their work.
It is important to note that some of these steps may be eliminated by avoiding probate entirely with joint ownerships or trusts. Whoever is left in charge must still pay all debts, file tax returns, and distribute property to the rightful heirs. You can make this process simpler by keeping good records of your assets and liabilities. This will help you shorten the process and minimize legal fees.
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