The days following a loved one’s passing can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many details to attend to; so many people to talk with. The administration of your loved one’s estate can be a daunting task to take on; that is, unless you have a basic concept of what is involved. Let’s talk a little bit about what the estate administration process is all about.
If a person dies with a will that means the person died “testate.” If a person dies without a will that means the person died “intestate.” Testate = a will; intestate = no will. In either case an estate may need to be opened to distribute the assets of the deceased. Just because you are named as the “executor” in a will does not automatically make you the executor. You must make an application to the Clerk of Superior Court and, based on that application, the Clerk will qualify you as such. If there is no will, the application will reflect that you are applying to be the “administrator” of the estate. Once qualified as either the executor or administrator of the estate, you are then authorized to conduct the business of the estate.
Now, let’s back up just a step. Before you can even make an application to the Clerk of Court for qualification as either an executor or administrator, you must determine the type of estate you need to open. You can open what is considered a full estate administration (if the value of the estate assets is $20,000 or greater if single or $30,000 if married), or you can open a small estate administration (if the value of the estate assets is less than $20,000).
At this point things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. You are now the executor or administrator of an estate, now what? Be prepared, the administration process can take up to a year to complete, and certainly no less than four or five months, depending on the assets of the estate. Now you’ll need to dig in and get some things done. You may need to contact Social Security, get an EIN from the IRS, cancel medical/life/disability insurances, publish a notice to creditors in the local newspaper, contact banks and financial institutions, open an estate bank account, in general gather all of the individual’s assets into the name of the estate during the first 90 days after your qualification and along the way obtain date of death values.
And once all of those tasks are completed, you will file with the Clerk of Court an Inventory that itemizes the date of death value of all of the assets owned by the deceased. Once the Inventory is filed you should be able to start paying bills and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs. You also need to be mindful to file final Federal and state individual income tax returns. Oh, there is just so much more and each estate is different from another.
We are able to assist you in the administration of your loved one’s estate. We can help you process the paperwork and itemize and prioritize tasks that must be accomplished. We can make sure things are done when they should be done and the way they should be done (and in the way the Clerk of Court will accept)! Let us relieve you of the stress of handling this probate process by yourself.