Estate Administration Lawyers in Yonkers, NY

Helping Administrators and Executors Understand Their Roles

When a loved one dies, there are many decisions to be made and choices to deal with, and this can be difficult when you are in the middle of the grieving process. But if you were also named executor of the estate or appointed as administrator, this can add another layer of complexity. Understanding your duties and responsibilities in this role is the first step in moving through the estate administration process.

If you need help with estate administration matters, speak to an estate planning attorney. The lawyers at our firm can help you determine what your next steps should be and provide counsel throughout the process.

What Is the Role of the Executor of an Estate?

The executor of the estate is the person who is responsible for settling the estate after someone’s death. An executor is named in the deceased’s will, while an administrator is appointed when someone dies without a will. The executor of the estate is responsible for filing the will with the probate court. Once this is done, the next duty is to ensure that there is a full accounting of the assets.

In some situations, this may be fairly simple if the person kept good records and had a clear and thorough estate plan. But in others, it can be much more complex and time-consuming. It may involve going through bank records, looking through estate planning documents, and working with an attorney to ensure that you have a full accounting of the estate. The estate must then be valued. If there are any nonliquid assets, such as real estate, jewelry, or artwork, they will need an appraiser.

Once the estate has been valued, any debts and estate taxes will need to be paid. This can happen by cashing out accounts or selling tangible assets. Any money left over is then distributed to the named beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. In some cases, executors may also need to navigate complex family dynamics and disputes between beneficiaries. Situations where the will is contested or there is another issue may require the legal assistance of an estate litigation attorney.

What Other Legal Areas Are Connected to Estate Administration?

Because estate administration generally deals with every aspect of a person’s financial life, it often requires dealing with other parts of New York law. It can help to be familiar with these other areas, such as probate law or estate planning law, or to work with an attorney who is experienced in these legal matters. Here are just a few of the other areas that are connected to estate administration.

Real Estate Law

You may not think of real estate law when you think of estate administration, but if the estate includes real estate assets, such as the family home or investment properties, it will come into play. You may need to look over lease contracts or prepare to sell off property to pay the estate’s debts. Real estate law is complex, and this is even more true when it’s applied to an estate. It’s best to talk with an attorney about what you need to do to ensure everything is done legally if you need to handle any real estate transactions as part of your estate administration duties.

Elder Law

Elder law includes things like Medicaid planning, retirement planning, and elder abuse — mostly legal matters that are still relevant while someone is alive. However, what actions a person took regarding their assets can make a difference in the estate administration. For example, someone who gifted cash to family members as a way to protect assets from Medicaid is likely to have a much smaller estate because the beneficiaries have, in a sense, already received their inheritances. This could mean that the estate is eligible for simplified probate. However, it’s also possible that this could cause disputes among beneficiaries who believed that they were going to be left significant inheritances only to find out that there’s not much left once the estate’s debts have been paid.

What Happens If Someone Dies Without a Will?

When someone dies without a will in Westchester County, it’s referred to as dying intestate. These estates still have to go through the probate process, but there’s no will to name an executor. The courts will appoint an administrator for the estate, which could be a family member of the deceased or a third party. The administrator will handle the estate administration duties in the same way an executor would. However, without a will, there is no guidance on how to distribute the remaining assets among the beneficiaries, which is where New York’s intestate succession laws come in and probate lawyers can be helpful.

How the assets are distributed depends on what surviving relatives the person had. If the person only had a spouse and no children, the spouse inherits everything. If there is a living spouse and children, the spouse gets the first $50,000 of the estate and splits what’s left with the children. If the person died without a spouse, children, or grandchildren, their parents or siblings would be next in line to inherit.

Estate administration is rarely a simple or fast process, even if the person had an estate plan including a will. It can be helpful for an executor or administrator to have the guidance and experience of an estate administration attorney as they navigate their role. Find out how the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, can help with these matters when you call 914-344-5145.

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