When a person dies, all of his or her possessions – real estate, money, stocks, personal belongings, etc. – become a part of his or her estate. Estate administration refers to the process of collecting and managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs of the estate. The heirs of an estate are determined by the will, and if there isn't a will, by the intestacy (which means dying without a will) laws of each state.
Put simply, estate administration is collecting, managing, and distributing a deceased person's estate. Each state has its own probate laws, which govern the requirements and process for administering an estate. In some cases, an estate may need to be administered in more than one state. Generally, the state in which the person lived in at the time of death is where the estate goes through probate. However, real estate is governed by state law, so real estate in another state might have to be probated in that state. Several states have adopted a version of the Uniform Probate Code, which is designed to simplify the estate administration process and provide similarity among probate laws from state to state.
The executor is responsible for locating and collecting all of the deceased's property, making sure any debts and taxes are paid off, and distributing the remaining property and money to the entitled parties. Although anyone can be an executor, the executor must perform with diligence and in good faith. Usually the executor is designated in a will. If the deceased didn't leave a will, an administrator is appointed by the probate court. If the probate process is complicated, the executor is entitled to hire an attorney – at the expense of the estate – to help him or her with the process. While the executor is not entitled to any proceeds from the sale of property of the estate, generally he or she is entitled to a fee as compensation for administering the estate.
Generally speaking, once a person dies, his or her debts are paid off from his or her estate, and if there isn't enough money to repay the debt, the debt dies with the person. Relatives or beneficiaries of the will are usually not responsible to pay the deceased person's debts. However, if the relative or beneficiary owed part of the debt or received substantial benefits from the debt, he or she could be responsible for repaying the debt. For example, credit card debt belongs to the account holder. If, however, a relative cosigned on a loan or the credit card was from a joint account, the co-signer or other account holder would have to pay the debt. It's important to note that in community property states – where property acquired during marriage is considered jointly owned – the surviving spouse may be liable for the debt.
If you're administering an estate, you have a lot of responsibility -- not only to the deceased party's legacy, but to the family members and other loved ones named in the will. For this reason, you should consult an Amarillo probate attorney who can help ensure that you're administering the estate properly. Many people have similar questions and go through the same line of questioning when deciding how to make their estate plan. It can be and often is critical that you get legal help understanding the basics of the probate planning process. The best way to get this understanding is to contact an experienced probate attorney near you. Stop and take a breath and call an Amarillo Probate Attorney who has had decades of experience. Pick up the phone and call Amarillo Probate Attorney Bill Cornett. Bill is your choice as an experienced estate attorney in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. Don’t waste another minute. Call him today.
Your most important action may end up being the phone call that you make to your Amarillo probate attorney lawyer. In the Texas Panhandle that call should be to Amarillo attorney Bill Cornett. Whether you need assistance with a will, administration of an estate or a contested probate, contact the Law Office of Bill Cornett. Be smart…remember these phone numbers (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618.
Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney, with Cornett Law Firm, offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer and probate attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.
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Bill Cornett grew up on a farm in Knox City, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. Bill was licensed to practice law in the State of Texas in 1973.