Estate administration is the process by which an individual’s lifetime financial affairs are wound up and their property and assets distributed after they die. Sounds simple? It can be direct, but sometimes it isn’t. Financial succession can be tricky.
Sometimes a person appoints someone they know to act as administrator. These appointees can also be financial or legal professionals. Someone must see that the assets of the deceased are distributed according to the will. If a person hasn’t designated anyone to handle the distribution of their estate upon their death, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the final details.
Duties of an Estate Administrator in California
Like most states, California requires specific duties of administrators.
- Inventory estate assets
- Communicate with creditors and taxing authorities
- Pay taxes and debts of the decedent
- Make payments for various services: professional appraisals, tax preparers, attorneys
- Distribute the estate assets to the rightful recipients
Probate Administrative Attorneys
Administrators are held to a strict fiduciary standard about the actions they take in carrying out those duties. If you have a loved one who has passed away, we strongly encourage you to contact a qualified California probate administration attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will assist you with what can be a complex probate administration process from beginning to end and will serve as a trusted advisor on whatever legal issues may arise.
Perhaps you’ve been nominated by the decedent’s will to serve as the Executor of an estate, or a loved one has passed away without a will. Administration can seem daunting. Worse, if you fail to perform the duties required, you could be held personally liable.
- Gather or identify the decedent’s assets and preserve them intact
- Pay any debts and taxes that the decedent still owes
- Distribute the estate according to the terms of the will
- To the extent that the estate cannot be fully distributed based on the terms of the will, identify any existing heirs, and distribute the remainder of the estate
For someone who has a simple estate or a simple will, this process can be very straightforward. Usually, the biggest challenge for an Executor is ensuring the estate is distributed according to the terms of the will. If the decedent made a complicated will or set conditions under which different heirs can inherit, this can lead to a lengthy process of determining exactly who is the legal heir for any given asset. If someone challenges the will, the executor is responsible for defending it.
We Can Help with Your Estate Administration Needs
The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC, specializes in all aspects of estate planning and probate. If you have questions about your estate planning, probate, wills, or estate taxes, contact us at 310-820-1600 or go to our website to set up a consultation.
We serve West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Manhattan Beach, and the surrounding Los Angeles communities.
The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC
11777 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, California, 90049