Estate Administration

Estate Administration

Los Angeles Estate Administration Attorney

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. The process differs from state to state. In California, people in the following order can act as executors or administrators:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • An ambiguous group called “the other”

No matter what category you fall into, administering an estate can be straightforward or a bureaucratic quagmire, depending on how thorough the deceased person was in setting up their estate succession plan. If all legal ducks are in line, there should be no problem. However, if the deceased was ambiguous about expressing their final wishes, you will probably need an estate planning attorney to figure things out. And – warning’s fair – even if all documents are in order, things can still get complicated. There’s always that cantankerous relative who insists they did not get what they deserved, and they will see you in court.

The Responsibilities of Estate Administration

To tackle estate administration, you should know what is expected:

  • Inventory estate assets
  • Communicate with creditors and taxing authorities
  • Pay taxes and other debts of the decedent
  • Make payments for various services – professional appraisals, tax preparers, and attorneys
  • Distribute the estate assets to the rightful beneficiaries

This is California—whatever you do:

  • Don’t make payments, distributions, or buy or sell asset without first securing court approval
  • Don’t fail to follow court-approved procedures when selling or liquidating estate assets

Securing court approval for routine expenses or the sale of assets slows things down but is essential to properly probating an estate.

  • Don’t act as executor or administrator before being formally appointed by the court. Being nominated as executor in a Will may not be enough for the court, particularly when it comes to larger estates. The court may choose to “vet” you to ensure you can handle the administrative responsibility.

Word of Advice

  • Be cognizant of applicable deadlines for executors in California. Executors and Administrators must not only inventory and appraise the estate but do it within certain specific deadlines.
  • Be sure to identify and notify all creditors and beneficiaries in and out of California.
  • Work with an attorney to determine if you can be appointed by the court with “full authority” which will allow the probate process to proceed in an smoother and faster process.

In California, the probate process ensures that all creditors and beneficiaries/heirs secure what they are entitled to receive before an estate is officially closed. Creditors that show up after the estate is closed can still file for payment. As an estate executor or administrator, you do not want to find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC

At The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC, our experienced attorneys have helped hundreds of clients negotiate estate administrations over the past 30 years. Do you have questions? We can answer all of them and guide you through what can be a complicated process. Contact us at 310-820-1600 or go to our website to learn more and set up a consultation.

We serve Los Angeles and the surrounding communities.