If the decedent died having executed a will, the probate process begins with the admission of the will to probate. This means that the will is given legal effect by the court. The court’s decision that the will was validly executed under state law gives the administrator the power to perform his or her duties under the provisions of the will. If the decedent died without a will, the estate will be administered pursuant to the state’s law of distribution.
The administrator takes legal title to the assets in the probate estate. The assets of the estate must be found and may have to be collected.
The administrator is legally responsible for filing necessary tax returns, and paying the taxes due from the estate. Tax returns that will need to be filed can include the estate’s federal and state income tax returns, the federal and state estate tax returns, and the decedent’s final federal and state income tax returns.
The claims of the estate’s creditors must be paid. Sometimes a claim must be litigated to determine if it is valid. All estate administration expenses, such as attorneys’ fees and accountants’ fees, must also be paid.
After the taxes, debts, and administration expenses have been paid, the administrator will distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under the decedent’s will, if there is one; or if there is no will, to the decedent’s heirs.
The administrator in a probate proceeding has a lot of responsibility, and can be held legally liable if he acts improperly. The attorneys at Sidney B. Margolis, Ltd. have had many years of experience in this process, and will guide you through every step making certain that you comply with the law and the rules of the probate court. Matters will be handled promptly and accurately with an eye toward keeping attorneys fees as reasonable as possible.