Many people think of an “estate” or estate administration as something that only the wealthy need. However, estate administration is something that everyone needs.
Estate administration is more than just determining who gets the family silver or a pile of cash. It involves ensuring that the deceased’s estate is properly distributed and that minor dependents have an appropriate guardian. Estate administration is a vital part of estate planning.
If you need help with estate planning, or if your loved one died and you need estate administration services, we can help you through this challenging time. Loew Law Group helps Belmont families with estate planning, asset allocation, and probate navigation.
An Effective Estate Administration and Heirship Attorney in Belmont
When a person dies, their possessions, bank accounts, and other assets become their estate. Estate administration involves determining the extent of the estate, paying any outstanding debts of the deceased from the estate, and then distributing the balance to any heirs and beneficiaries.
Even if the person dies intestate (without a will), the estate still needs an administrator. A will names an executor to complete the administration process. Without a will, an appointed estate administrator will complete the process. Estate administrators should be familiar with California probate laws.
Belmont Estate Administration Services
Whether the deceased left a will or not, the estate will go through probate. Probate is a court-supervised procedure that ensures that payment of debts, liens, and creditors is completed correctly and that the allocation of the estate complies with California law. Probate may entail:
- Identifying all of the deceased’s assets
- Valuing all assets
- Completing an inventory of all personal property
- Satisfying claims against the estate and paying off debts
- Notifying any heirs and beneficiaries of the deceased
- Selling property if needed to satisfy debts
- Filing estate taxes and other fees
- Distributing the assets in accordance with the will or with probate law
When someone makes a will, they’ll appoint an executor who completes the estate administration process. The executor is the personal representative of the estate and ensures the terms of the will are fulfilled. An executor has a fiduciary duty to the estate’s creditors and beneficiaries and must comply with certain legal requirements.
Choosing an Estate Administrator
When people write a will, they designate a specific individual as the personal representative of the estate. The California probate court will appoint someone as an executor if someone dies without a will.
Selecting the executor for your will is an important decision. You shouldn’t simply choose someone you like best or your closest relative. Administering an estate can be complicated, and California probate laws are confusing for people unfamiliar with them.
To ensure your estate is correctly administered, it may be best to assign a professional estate attorney as your executor. Estate planning lawyers have a deep understanding of California probate laws and can help reduce costly delays that negatively affect your beneficiaries.
Additionally, a professional estate administrator is a neutral third party, which allows them to distribute the estate fairly and manage disputes from heirs.
The California Estate Administration Procedure
An estate is formally opened in probate, allocated, and then closed once probate is legally finished. It begins when the administrator petitions for the opening of the estate and files that paperwork with the court.
The probate court determines the validity of a will — if there is a will — and then the estate’s assets are valued. An estate administrator will likely need to arrange appraisals of jewelry, real estate, vehicles, antiques, and other valuables.
Outstanding creditors are notified and given the opportunity to file a claim to settle the decedent’s obligations. The executor and probate court may either approve or challenge these claims. Then, any estate taxes are paid out of the estate.
Once all claims and taxes against the estate are settled, any remaining assets are transferred to the heirs. Probate also addresses specific asset allocation, such as a piece of heirloom jewelry, a family home, or other items. If a will states that a specific person should have an item, the item is not sold but rather transferred to the individual.
Do You Need Estate Administration Services in Belmont?
If someone you loved died recently and did not have a will, you should consider hiring a professional estate administrator. They can be very helpful in ensuring that the estate is closed in compliance with California law.
You may be overwhelmed, grieving, and unprepared for the estate allocation process. We can help. Loew Law Group has the knowledge and experience in estate planning and probate law to help your family through this difficult time.
We also help you with overall estate planning services, such as drafting a will and naming an executor. Our legal team will help set up trusts and guardianships for any minor dependents. We can also create a living will, which will set forth your healthcare preferences in the event you cannot advocate for yourself. Contact Loew Law Group today to understand your options and protect your heirs!