WHAT IS ESTATE ADMINISTRATION?
When a person passes away, regardless of whether they were a wealthy developer or a blue-collar worker, an estate is always left behind, and must always be settled in court. If the deceased person created a trust during their lifetime and successfully transferred all or most of their assets into said trust - the process of validating their will as well as the administration of their estate plan may require little if any court involvement.
SMALL ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
If the assets left behind in an estate are collectively worth less than $30,000 and do not include any real estate - the estate will go through a Voluntary Administration Proceeding (VAP), regardless of whether or not a will was drafted. A VAP is a process where the court appoints the nearest relative of the decedent as the administrator of the estate.
WHAT IS A PROBATE PROCEEDING?
If the deceased person did in fact leave a will, odds are it will be probated in the Surrogate’s Court of the county in which they resided. The process of probating a will involves the Surrogate's Court judge reviewing the will to determine its validity. Once the will is probated, Letters Testamentary will be issued appointing the executor.
WHAT IS AN ADMINISTRATION PROCEEDING?
If a person dies without a will (intestate) - an administration proceeding will begin to appoint one of the estate distributees to perform administrative duties. Letters of administration will also be issued by the Surrogates Court to said distributee giving them the authority to collect and distribute the decedent’s property.
WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF AN ESTATE ADMINISTRATOR?
Once a person is authorized by the court to perform the administrator’s duties, he or she will take over the maintenance of the estate. Eventually, the administrator will have to distribute the estate in accordance with the Will (if there was one), or in accordance with the intestate law of the state where the estate was processed. The administrator will also have to file and pay all federal and state income taxes on the estate as well as any other debts accrued by the decedent. It’s important to note that non-compliance with estate administrator obligations may result in the revocation of your appointment as administrator and/or other penalties.