What is Estate Administration?
If you have started thinking about estate planning, you may have heard the term “estate administration.” Estate administration is the process by which a decedent’s estate is settled and distributed to any beneficiaries. The estate administration process is different depending on the circumstances of each individual estate, but there are general steps that must be followed regardless, which we will review here. Of course, the best way to get an idea of exactly how your estate will be administered and how to prepare for that is to speak to an experienced trusts and estates attorney, but it is always a good idea to educate yourself.
The Estate Administration Process
As noted above, the process of administering an estate depends in large part on the estate. However, estate administration generally begins by identifying all assets and debts belonging to the decedent. This is done by a personal representative, which the decedent can designate. The personal representative will likely be assisted by lawyers and other professionals. Along with assets, all liens on the assets and outstanding debts must then be settled before beneficiaries can be determined and receive distributions from the estate. If there is a will or assets that are not housed in an independent trust, they will have to go through probate court.
What is Probate Court?
Probate court is where the decedent’s will is determined to be valid or invalid once the estate is settled, and all distributions are made either via will or based on the statutory intestate succession guidelines. During probate court, anyone with an interest in the will can contest it if they do not believe it was valid or if they believe it was created due to undue influence on the testator. An attorney can help you plan to avoid probate to the greatest extent possible so that your loved ones can have access to critical assets as soon as possible and to limit the financial strain on your estate to ensure that the maximum amount of inheritance goes to the people that you care about, rather than to lawyers and court fees. In general, the more complex an estate is or the more complaints that are made against it, the more drawn out the process will be.
Things You Can Do to Prepare Your Estate
The best thing that you can do to prepare your estate for administration is to consult with an attorney and develop a solid plan as early as possible. It is also important to keep detailed records when it comes to assets, property titles, and debts. Making a valid will and ensuring that certain assets can avoid probate will be a big step, and it is just as important to make sure that your records and your final will and testament will be able to be located by relevant parties.
Contact the SG Law Firm
If you need assistance creating a thorough and effective estate plan in Florida, the experienced estate planning attorneys at the SG Firm are ready to help. Contact the SG Firm today to schedule a consultation.