When planning for your estate, it is important to discuss who will follow through with your wishes. Your vision for how assets should pass is important and it should be for the people you choose to administer your estate. Through testamentary instruments, you will declare your directions for the allocation of your assets. With so much time spent organizing your estate, the person who you choose as an executor or trustee, he or she should be ready and willing to take on this significant responsibility. With so much at stake, understanding the task you will bestow upon someone is substantial. Often times, an individual will hire an attorney to act as the executor, but one can choose a non-lawyer. If so, it is best to have an attorney guide them through the process and ensure they meet their obligation to the estate. As Rockland County estate administration lawyers, we understand the complexity of settling an estate. To know more about the estate administration process or to find out more about our firm’s services, contact Koplen Law.
Probate is often the first step in the estate administration process after someone passes. This process begins with offering a will for probate in Surrogate’s Court. Probate’s goal is to test the validity of a will, determine the executor, and carry out the will’s directions. The executor will file a petition for Letters of Administration. If granted, the court provides authorization for that person to carry out the wishes of the deceased.
Choosing your executor is a weighty request. Not only is it difficult to discuss what will happen after you pass, the person you choose will have great responsibilities. Simply, an executor must:
The task is substantial. The executor may have to coordinate with trustees, attorneys, accountants, financial planners and the beneficiaries themselves. The process is complicated and, if you choose a friend or family member, it is important for the executor to have legal support to ensure that they meet their obligations.
After the majority of obligations are met, the executor can take steps to close the estate. These include collecting and protecting assets and paying taxes and debts. Once complete, the executor will prepare an accounting which details assets received, expenses paid and the proposed distribution of assets to beneficiaries. This accounting should be sent to the beneficiaries with a document sometimes called the Release, Receipt, and Waiver Agreement, or something similar. This document releases the executor from further liability regarding the estate. If possible, and if the beneficiaries all agree to sign the waiver, the executor may file them with the court and distribute the final distribution check. If a beneficiary chooses to not sign the waiver, it may call for the executor to formally close the estate, requesting the court’s discharge of the executor’s responsibility.
If a person was to pass without a will, they are said to have passed “intestate.” If there is no will, an Intestate Administration Proceeding should be filed. An estate administrator will be chosen in Surrogate’s Court and follows the line of succession (spouse, children, parents, etc.). The property will be distributed according to the law to the distributees. Accordingly, if there are no children but a living spouse, he or she will receive everything. If children exist and no living spouse, the children receive everything. If there are both a spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance and the children receive everything else. If a child passes before the decedent but had children, those grandchildren would step in as the distributees. From there, if there is no spouse or children, the estate can pass to the subject’s parents then to the siblings if the parents have also passed.
Koplen Law provides effective legal services based on the depth of knowledge acquired through years of service. Estate administration is a complex, time-consuming, and document-heavy process that deserves the attention of quality legal support. If you would like an attorney to act as your executor, our firm is ready to serve. If you pick a family member or friend to act as your executor, it is important to provide them with legal support. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Rockland County estate administration law firm, contact Koplen Law.