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Estate Administration: An Overview

A loved one passes away with a will in place, but now what? This is where estate administration begins with collecting and managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs of the estate.

People sitting at table reviewing spreadsheets

This process often overlaps with a family grieving and can feel especially daunting for individuals tasked with managing an estate posthumously.

Keeping this situation in mind, the subsequent article outlines important information related to estate administration. We strive to empower the designated executor with an understanding of the steps involved and their responsibilities. Lastly, if you feel overwhelmed by this information, we encourage you to consider consulting an estate administration attorney to relieve yourself of stress and potential liabilities in the future.

The Estate Administration Process

Below is an overview of the steps that the executor of an estate will need to take in order to properly handle the deceased individual’s assets. Note that these steps are for individuals who had a will prior to passing away only. The absence of a will causes the estate to be held intestate.

Step 1:

After a person passes away with a will, the designated executor must contact their local Register of Wills office with the will and supporting documents to qualify as an executor.

Step 2:

The executor needs to issue notices to all qualifying parties: decedent’s spouse, all heirs at law, and all beneficiaries.

Step 3:

The executor must post a public notice in local papers for at least a three-week period. This activity allows people who may be owed money or owed money to the deceased to contact the executor.

Step 4:

After the notice period, the executor begins the process of inventorying assets, settling debts/taxes, collecting owed money, and distributing probate assets to individuals.

Special Consideration:

The executor is entitled to fees based on the size of the estate for their services, but these are subject to income taxes.

Specific Executor Duties

Collection of Information:

  • Inventorying probate assets, debts, money owed to the deceased person
  • Filing necessary paperwork with local probate court

Management of Assets:

  • Providing notice to heirs/debtors
  • Obtaining appraisal of assets, if needed
  • Distributing assets to relevant parties
  • Paying off debts
  • Collecting money owned

Ensuring Federal and State Tax Compliance:

  • Paying taxes (income, gift, or estate) for individual and estate

How an Estate Administration Lawyer Can Help

After consideration of the estate administration process and an executor’s duties, working with an estate administration lawyer may be worth pursuing. We understand that the thought of documenting a deceased loved one’s assets and filing paperwork with various government institutions, for example, may be too much to handle while mourning. Securing an attorney’s assistance offers you the following benefits:

  • Extensive knowledge of and experience with Maryland’s estate administration process
  • A tailored approach to match the uniqueness of each individual’s needs
  • Allows you time and space to grieve without worrying about a complicated legal process

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