Estate Administration (Probate)

Probate generally is the legal process whereby the real and personal property owned by the Decedent is transferred to another. Essentially the initial step is to authenticate the writing as the Decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If the Will appoints an Executor the person named then has to qualify for the office. Thereafter, the Surrogate issues Letters Testamentary which is the written authorization for the person to lawfully act on behalf of the Estate. The Executor then inventories all of the assets owned by the Decedent and identifies all debts. Once this is accomplished s/ he pays any taxes, debts an expenses incurred during administration of the Estate, renders an accounting to the heirs named in the Will and then distributes the assets in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Will.

If the Decedent dies “intestate” (without a Last Will and Testament) the Court will appoint a person to lawfully act on behalf of the Estate. That person is called an Administrator. The person named then has to qualify for the office. If s/he qualifies then the Surrogate issues Letters of Administration which is the written court authorization for that person to lawfully act on behalf of the Estate. The Administrator then inventories all of the assets owned by the Decedent and identifies all debts. Once this is accomplished s/he pays any taxes, debts and expenses incurred during administration of the Estate, and renders an accounting to the heirs. The heirs are those persons entitled to inherit as defined by State Law (Intestacy Statutes)

 

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