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Estate Administration

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WHAT IS IT?

“Estate Administration is the process by which the court system takes an inventory of the deceased persons entire estate (assets, possessions, property, cash, etc. – everything that person owned at the time of their death – both individually & jointly with someone else) and then distributes it either by way carrying out the persons will…”

Probate Court with probate granted on a Last Will & Testament. The first step in the legal process of administering and transferring ownership of the estate of a deceased person’s wealth, including savings, antiques, property and cars, as designated in the deceased’s will. A Probate Court decides the legal validity of the testator’s will and grants approval thereof to the executors to legally distribute the estate according to the will.

Estate Administration is the process by which the court system takes an inventory of the deceased persons entire estate (assets, possessions, property, cash, etc. – everything that person owned at the time of their death – both individually & jointly with someone else) and then distributes it either by way carrying out the persons will… or if the person dies “intestate,” that is – without a will as the law specifies. It can be a long, painful, drawn out process and unfortunately, happens concurrently with the grief and pain of having just lost a loved one. It’s unfortunate when a person dies “intestate” (without a will) because the government (not a loved one) decides what happens to that person’s property. The person may have told a loved one that they wanted them to have something when they died, but without a legal will, that will not be likely.  As a matter of fact, even creditors have the right to take possession of the deceased property before even a family member. It’s extremely important to have a plan in place prior to your death. Keeping in mind, none of us are promised tomorrow – and it’s not only the elderly that need to have a will in place. Every adult person, whether married or not, whether they have children or not, should have at minimum, a basic will in place. You can head over to our Estate Planning page to learn more about each part of an “Estate Plan” and what might be right for you and your specific situation. We offer a wide variety & levels of Estate Planning and we can find the right fit for you. Don’t forget to update your estate plans every 5 years minimum to keep up with the changes that have happened in your life (people who may have been born or have died – or maybe aren’t who you want to be named any longer in your plans; financial changes; property changes, etc.).

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 As we just mentioned, this process can be a very long, exhausting process – and happens right when a loved one dies. It’s a lot of stress and we can tell you some horror stories (coming soon) that have happened to some people we know. It’s also a very time sensitive (stringent) and specific process (yes, even one cent off will cause the court to not accept your accounting, which are due on a very specific schedule. This is a court process – this means you can actually be called up for courts dates, hearings and be fined. Oh – did we mention; it also costs money. If the estate is worth over 5.43 million , you’re looking at a whopping $6,000.00 in court fees alone (no that doesn’t cover anything else). Our Estate Administration department is intimately familiar with this process and knows how to make your experience the most cost effective (yes, there are tricks to the trade), and painless.

Are you struggling with the Probate/Estate Administration process for a loved one right now? Please get in touch with us so that we can help you through it. Use the form below and we’ll contact you via email to get started.

calendarHow Long does it take?

The shortest Estate Administration we’ve ever seen (or heard of) lasted 10 months. That was a super simple estate and had little to noassets involved. Estate Administration can span 5 or more years! Yes, we have Estates that have been open since 2010. We administrate estates for every county in the State of North Carolina. Each county has a slightly  varied process, but we can go to work for you to handle it in the most effective way.

dollar-signHow much does it cost?

Well, that’s a great question and we’ll do our best to answer it. While there’s no way to tell you a definitive figure because everyone’s estate will vary from some degree to another, in our experience, each “phase” of the Estate Administration process costs anywhere between $1,000.00 – $6,000.00 (again, depending on the complexity of the estate).

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Summary Steps/What to Expect:

 One of the first steps that happens when a loved one dies is naming a person who is going to carry out that persons last wishes (or distributes the remaining assets of that person’s estate accordingly).

Appointing an Administrator or Executor (personal rep) of the Estate: If the deceased had a will, they are referred to as having died “testate” and should have named the person who they wanted to carry out their last wishes. This person has many titles by the law, but often will be referred to as the Executor (or the female version: Executrix). Should the deceased person have died “intestate,” (that is, without a will), the government will appoint someone to manage their estate for them and that person will be called an “Administrator (or the female version: Administratrix),” or “Personal Representative (sometimes Limited Personal Representative in certain situations).” This title will be given to the person in charge of carrying out the estate when the government awards the “Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration” – These “Letters” give that person the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased person. Nothing can be done in the Estate until the Letters have been issued by the court.

 Obtaining Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration:

As we just covered, depending on the situation, someone must be named the Executor or Administrator (sometimes Personal Representative) of the deceased’s estate. If there is someone named in the will, that person will apply to qualify as the Executor to receive Letters Testamentary. If you’ve caught on, having a will at the time of death is referred to as dying “testate” and without a will is dying “intestate.” Therefore, a person named in a Will will receive Letters Testamentary and if the government names someone due to the lack of a Will, they will receive Letters of Administration. With a will, Testamentary, Without, Administration. With a Will, Testate/Letters Testamentary/Executor; Without a Will, Intestate/Letters Administration/Administrator (or Personal Representative in some situations). The role will be the same.

 Once a person has “Qualified” and received their “Letters,” then further steps can be taken to execute the matters of the Estate. A Federal Tax ID number must be obtained from the IRS so that the final taxes can be filed for the estate of the deceased person. An Estate bank account might need to be opened in order to transfer the decedent’s financial assets to. This process should be very carefully managed and performed strictly by the rules set forth by the court of law. No one should take any money from the deceased person without prior authorization from the government. Further, the financial assets of the deceased must first be offered to any creditors for any outstanding debts at the time of death before any beneficiaries can receive it. One of the beginning steps is to run an ad in the newspaper of the county in which the decedents resided at the time of death for 4 consecutive weeks stating that the person had died and if anyone with creditor claims exists, must come forward to stake their claim by a specific date or never be able to pursue the debt again. After that period has expired, there must be a preliminary inventory of the decedent’s entire estate submitted to the court. This includes all real property (real estate, vehicles, etc.), bank accounts/cash assets, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, savings accounts, stocks/bonds etc., household possessions (valued), and much more. One must be able to put a value (both accurate on accounts and on worldly possessions) in order to submit this inventor and then either Annual or Final Accounting for the Estate.

Need assistance with an Estate Administration? We’ve got a team with the experience to help ready for you. Contact us today!