When a loved one passes away, it can be a very difficult time for the remaining family members and friends. While you may want to just concentrate on the grieving process, you also have to think about administering the decedent’s estate. Whoever is named as the personal representative of the estate (sometimes called the executor, administrator, or trustee) will also need to start resolving everything related to the decedent’s affairs and last wishes. Even under the best of circumstances, estate administration (which can include a court proceeding called probate) can be a complex process. The role of the personal representative is an important position, and this person has a lot of responsibilities.
Some people assume that retaining an Illinois estate administration attorney is a waste of money, but they could not be more wrong. An experienced attorney can help you through this trying time and streamline the estate administration process. An attorney will also help make sure that all of the decedent’s outstanding liabilities (including taxes) are resolved and that the estate is subsequently properly closed.
At Momkus, LLC, our team of attorneys have experience in all aspects of estate planning and estate/trust administration. We can work with estates of all sizes, providing top-notch legal guidance and service to ensure the estate is distributed in a cost-efficient manner.
Estate Administration Tasks
In general, the process for estate administration will vary based on the circumstances surrounding the estate. For example, if someone dies without a will, this is referred to as being “intestate,” which is a different process when compared to someone with a will. The main scenarios for estate administration are:
- Estate under $100,000: For estates that contain personal property valued under $100,000, the estate may be distributed cost efficiently via a Small Estate Affidavit.
- No Will or Trust: The decedent’s assets are passed to family members per the state’s intestate succession laws. There is likely still a need for probate, which will be more expensive and may take longer, since the court has to appoint a representative of the estate first.
- Will: Assets may be subject to a probate proceeding, which will take six months or longer if there are disputes.
- Trust: Administration and distribution of assets can be handled efficiently and privately, with no need to involve the court.
Many times, a combination of the above processes is utilized in one estate administration.
Tasks a Personal Representative Has to Perform
The personal representative (be it the executor, administrator or trustee) will have a series of duties throughout the estate administration process. These include:
- Verify the will is valid, if any.
- Prepare an inventory of all the estate’s assets.
- Resolve outstanding debts (including payment of final expenses and taxes).
- Locate all heirs and/or beneficiaries.
- Liquidate estate property as needed.
- Distribute the estate’s property to its beneficiaries according to the decedent’s final wishes and/or state law.
- Prepare annual accountings detailing all financial aspects of the estate throughout the year.
- Complete all required tax filings and provide for any payments from the estate for both federal and state income and estate taxes.
Personal Representative Who Is Out-of-State
One aspect that can make estate administration more complicated is when the personal representative resides in another state. This is one of the many cases in which a skilled attorney is helpful. Your attorney will utilize the latest in technology to make the process easier and minimize the amount of travel needed.
Contact a Lisle Estate Planning and Estate Administration Attorney
If you need assistance with estate planning tools, or if you need to address legal issues during the estate administration process, it is important to work with an experienced DuPage County estate planning and estate administration attorney. Contact Momkus, LLC today at 630-434-0400 to schedule a consultation.