What is Probate Administration?

Our Estate Planning Lawyer Explains

Maryland Estate Planning Attorney for Probate AdministrationAfter a loved one passes away, the probate administration allows for effective management and distribution of the deceased individual’s assets. The probate process refers to the process of filing a will in court and administering the estate. Though most people associate probate proceedings with a testamentary will, intestate estates (when a person dies without a will) can also go through the probate process and be administered under District of Columbia and state law. Washington DC estate planning lawyer Michelle Lanchester can help you understand the probate administration process and can serve as an executor or personal representative of a will, or she can offer assistance and legal advice to another individual who is administering a probate estate.

The Probate Administration Process

The process first begins by filing the will in probate court. If there are no objections to the will, the named executor or personal representative will pay debts of the estate and distribute any remaining assets to beneficiaries. If the deceased individual created a testamentary will, this document determines the distribution of assets during the probate proceeding. However, if no will exists, or if the will only covers part of the estate, state and District of Columbia law determines the beneficiaries and distribution.

The probate court oversees the process. Typically, the process includes the following steps:

  1. Appoint an executor or personal representative if there is not one already named in the testamentary will. If an individual does not specify an executor or that person cannot or does not wish to do the job, the court will determine who will be the personal representative or executor of the estate. This person is entitled to collect fees from the estate for work performed.
  2. Identify and notify heirs, beneficiaries, creditors and the public about the deceased individual and the creation of the probate estate.
  3. Appraise property. The executor or personal representative must inventory all property to determine the value of the estate. If the estate lacks sufficient assets to pay off creditors, beneficiaries may not receive some or all of their inheritance.
  4. Pay taxes, creditors and distribute assets to beneficiaries. Creditors, including the IRS, receive payment according to a priority order and any leftover funds are distributed amongst the heirs according to the will or the requirements of the law.

Complications to the Probate Process

The probate administration process is not always simple. Some complications can arise with assets that are not subject to probate. Properties such as life insurance policies, properties owned through a living trust, and titles considered “joint tenants with right of survivorship” do not pass through probate.

Individuals receiving disproportionate amounts of the estate may contest the will. These issues require an estate planning attorney to reach a resolution.

Contact Maryland and Washington DC Estate Planning Lawyer Michelle Lanchester for Legal Help in Probate Administration

Michelle Lanchester is a respected attorney who assists individuals and families in their preparations for the future. If you have questions about the probate process or need an attorney to consult on estate planning issues, contact Attorney Lanchester today to find the answers.

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