Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Administrator Duties For Probate Estate Management

Acting as the Administrator for probate estates encompasses many duties ranging from making burial arrangements to dispersing inheritance assets. Two types of probate estates exist; testate and intestate. Testate means decedent's executed a last will and testament. Intestate refers to estates where no Will exists.

Being an Administrator can be a difficult and time-consuming task. This is particularly true when administering the estate of a spouse or direct lineage relative. In addition to coping with personal grief and administration responsibilities, personal probate representatives must also cope with grieving heirs.

With testate estates, Administrator's are appointed within the Will. When decedents die without executing a last will, a probate judge will appoint an estate executor. In most cases, judges will appoint the surviving spouse, adult children or relative. If family members are unwilling to fulfill estate duties, a probate lawyer or estate planner can be appointed to the role.

Most probate executors require legal assistance with filing documents and transferring financial holdings. This is especially true when real estate is involved or if heirs contest the Will. It is a good idea to retain the services of a neutral third party to manage estate holdings when family strife exists.

Will administrators receive compensation for estate management duties. Administrative fees are based on state probate laws and can be paid as a flat fee, hourly wage or percentage of estate value. While family members might feel awkward about receiving payment for services rendered, it is important to understand that settling an estate can require hundreds of hour's worth of work.

Common estate administration duties include: taking inventory of estate assets; obtaining property appraisals; sending out creditor notices and paying outstanding debts; managing real estate and financial portfolios; contacting government agencies such as Medicare, Social Security or Veterans Administration; filing the decedent's last will and death certificate through the probate court; filing a final tax return; and distribution of inheritance assets to heirs.

If designated probate executors are unable to take on administrative duties, they can submit a request to the court seeking dismissal. The judge will confirm another Administrator and submit appropriate documents to record the change through the court.

When executing a last will and testament, it is a good idea to appoint a first and second Administrator. If the primary executor is unable to fulfill estate duties, the second executor can quickly take over without the need for a court confirmation hearing.

The probate process begins when the decedent's death certificate is filed. Probate usually lasts between three and nine months. Much depends on court caseload, validity of the Will, value of the estate, and how well family members get along. If relatives decide to contest the Will, probate can be suspended for months or years.

Certain strategies can be implemented prior to death to avoid probate. It is strongly recommended to consult with a probate lawyer or professional estate planning service to determine which strategies will offer the most protection. Trusts are a popular choice and are used to avoid inheritance taxes. Several types of trusts exist including revocable and irrevocable trusts and life insurance trusts.

When choosing the Will administrator it is best to discuss this decision beforehand. While you may feel they are the most qualified to handle estate duties, they may have no desire to manage your estate or have obligations that would prevent them from taking on additional responsibilities.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3870236

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