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Estate Administration

If estate planning is the process of designing a playbook, estate administration occurs when the playbook is put into action. The process begins with an event that triggers a provision in your estate plan, such as incapacity or death. The plan becomes 'executory', meaning that the individuals you designated in your plan documents must step into action and execute according to your instructions.

Interstate Administration

Persons who fail to plan during their lives and die without creating a will 'die intestate'.


Each state has laws that dictate how an intestate person's property will be distributed leaving you with absolutely no control. Property may go to people you don't want and in ways that you never intended.  Dying intestate means no planning was done on your behalf.

Probate
 
Probate is the court-supervised process for distributing the individually owned assets of a deceased person.  Assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance to the instructions written in the person's will. Administration of a probate estate when your Estate Plan centers on a Will requires the continued oversight by a Court and complying with all of the Court's rules for Personal Representatives (Executors and Administration) and can often take time and incur expenses that are larger than you may have expected. 

Administration of Trusts

If your Estate Plan is centered around a Living Trust, then after the death of the grantor (the person who created the trust), the individual or company named as the successor Trustee has to take steps to comply with the distribution terms in that Trust. The Trustee will have to take all the actions required in the Trust or by state law. This is "trust administration," and the complexity of the administration depends on a number of factors including the value and type of assets, the distribution provisions and whether the Trust includes planning for estate taxes.

Major assets must be appraised and an inventory must be prepared in accordance with the terms of the Trust. If the estate of the decedent is valued at more than the current estate tax exemption ($5 million for 2011 and 2012), a federal estate tax return must be filed.  Income tax returns also must be filed for the estate and for the decedent. If the trust became all or partially irrevocable as a result of the death, the decedent's heirs and trust beneficiaries must be notified of that fact and given an opportunity to request copies of the trust.
 
In general, estate administration can be complex and the people you have designated must have competent and experienced counsel to guide them through the process. They must make important decisions ' sometimes quickly ' and they need help to make them wisely. They may need to prepare inventories of your property, prepare tax returns, or sign other important documents on your behalf. Ultimately they must divide and distribute your property to those individuals or charities you identified in your will or trust agreement. 
 
The estate administration process carries a lot of responsibilities. I can help guide your loved ones through the process as sensitively and completely as possible, and will try to make it as straightforward and efficient as possible.