Estate Administration

When an individual dies leaving a Will, the Will usually names an executor to manage the estate, pay the debts of the estate and to distribute the assets. When there is no Will involved, an administrator is appointed by the court to perform the same duties. The probate process begins when the death certificate and Will are provided to the Surrogate’s office in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of his death. Once the application is completed, the Surrogate signs a judgment and issues Letters Testamentary, which certify the Will. It is the executor/administrator’s duty to determine if federal or state estate taxes, state inheritance taxes or federal and state income taxes are due. If real estate is involved, a tax waiver must be obtained prior to sale of the property. If a Trust is involved, the trustee is responsible for complying with the Prudent Investor Act, which requires that the trustee invest the Trust assets prudently.