Sometimes it’s hard to think about death and all the implications associated with it. But death will come for everyone, so preparing for it is a wise move. If someone has passed away, estate administration may be necessary to care for the deceased’s assets and debts.
What Is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is taking care of a deceased person’s property and transferring it to the rightful heirs. The estate’s executor, who is named in the will or appointed by the court, oversees the process.
As an executor, you must follow the court’s instructions and make sure to distribute the estate according to the deceased person’s wishes and state law. An attorney should prepare this paperwork for you and help you complete it.
An Estate Administration Lawyer’s Benefits
Tragedies happen every day, but it’s easy to be caught unprepared for them. Hiring an estate lawyer can help your family so that they are always prepared for the worst. Here is why:
- Drafting will: Estate lawyers have extensive knowledge of the laws that regulate the processes of distributing property after someone dies. They can advise about how to write your will to conform to these laws. With their help, you’ll be able to make sure that your property will be distributed according to your wishes after you die.
- Legal expertise:Many individuals have found themselves in need of an estate lawyer to keep their family’s affairs in order. An estate lawyer can help you deal with legal matters that are often too complex for the average individual to handle on their own.
- Probate process:Since it can be difficult for many people to understand and navigate the probate process, hiring an estate lawyer can help your family avoid unnecessary headache and save time and money.
Every family and therefore every estate is unique. Transferring assets to beneficiaries can be complex when dealing with many complicated issues, such as debts, taxes, and insurance requirements and individual personalities. That’s why hiring an estate lawyer can help your family navigate the probate process.
- Protect estate from legal claims:An estate lawyer helps protect an estate from legal claims by ensuring all necessary legal paperwork is done. You can avoid mistakes and problems caused by oversight by hiring a lawyer who is experienced with estate law.
- Taxes:If you’re facing the death of a loved one and need help with taxes and estate administration, and estate administration attorney can provide assistance and ease during this trying time.
Under United States tax law, the federal government and the states impose separate taxes on individuals, households, and entities. Taxing authorities also impose taxes on estates and heirs. An estate administration attorney can help you navigate the complexities of death and taxes and ensure that your family doesn’t suffer any legal consequences.
- Time:Estate administration attorneys are skilled in the legalities of wills and estate administration. They know how to save time by avoiding conflicts, eliminating costly errors, and streamlining transitioning of property.
- Minimize family disputes: Hiring an estate lawyer can help a family minimize the conflicts that often arise when a loved one dies. Disagreements about who gets what from the estate have torn apart many families. An estate lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through these tough decisions so you can find peace knowing that your family is intact.
- Filling insurance claims:There are many laws involved in estate disputes. One area is insurance claims. When people die, life insurance policies are often the only source of financial stability for their children. It is critical to know how to claim an insurance policy when the person who created it dies.
If you are the executor of an estate, life insurance beneficiaries, or both, it is important to understand the legal requirements of claiming the policies. Let an estate attorney handle the life insurance claims.
Steps in Estate Administration
Step 1: Filing the Will
The first step to administering the estate of a deceased person is to file a copy of the will with the probate court. The will must meet specific legal requirements to be valid. State laws vary, but a will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and executed with testamentary intent. According to New Jersey’s intestacy laws, a court will distribute the estate if a will does not exist or if it is defective.
Step 2: Locating the Decedent’s Estate Assets.
An executor locates the decedent’s estate assets. Under the law, an executor must file a decedent’s probate property list with the court. This includes real property, personal property, and intangible property. Real property may comprise any land owned by the decedent. In New Jersey, the definition of real property includes buildings and other improvements to the land.
Step 3: Paying Bills and Taxes
Once you have a list of debts and assets, you can distribute the money from the estate to the rightful owners. In most cases, this is accomplished through a probate court or an attorney. Also, you will need to pay any bills owed by the estate. Paying these obligations from the estate is called administrative expenses.
Step 4: Tax Return Preparation
The complexities of estate administration often result in various tax filings, such as an income tax return. Once the estate is closed, you will need to prepare and file a final income tax return for the decedent. Even if it has been delayed because of administration obligations, ensure you file the return on time or face penalties.
Step 5: Distribute the Remaining Assets to the Heirs.
Some states call it “distribution,” some call it “disposition,” but the process is the same. The personal representative’s job is to distribute what remains of the estate according to the will or intestacy laws.
Trustees and executors unfamiliar with settling estates may find it challenging. Mandatory duties and responsibilities may also be confusing. Executors and administrators of estates can significantly benefit from the expertise of an experienced attorney, who can make dealing with such unfamiliar tasks much easier and less daunting.
The Tarta law firm helps people with estate administration and probate matters. We serve Midland Park, Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Wyckoff, and Franklin Lakes, HoHoKus, Allendale, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Paramus, Wayne, Mahwah, Pines Lake, Ramsey, Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey among other municipalities in New Jersey. Call us on 201-444-8448 for more on estate or probate matters.