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Probate Administration

Counseling Executors and Administrators

Probate refers to the legal process of validation by the appropriate probate court of a decedent’s will and appointing an executor to implement the decedent’s wishes with regard to the distribution of his or her property according to the terms of the will. It also refers to the oversight the probate court provides for an estate administrator who settles an intestate estate — one in which the decedent left no will. The process can be anything from relatively simple and straightforward to very complex and time-intensive. As part of his practice, Ray advises clients serving as executors or administrators through every step of the probate process and on how to comply with all aspects of probate administration accurately and completely. A person appointed to serve in such a position (and accepting such an appointment) can benefit from sound, thorough legal representation and guidance so as to maximize the value of the estate for the beneficiaries, and also so as to not be held personally liable for losses in the value of estate assets due to errors or misconduct during the probate process. Typically, an executor is not familiar with probate laws and procedure, and some are even surprised to learn that the decedent’s will named them as executor. To complete the probate process and settle an estate efficiently and in a timely manner, Ray helps executors with the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Filing the decedent’s will with the appropriate probate court
  • Obtaining probate court approval of the appointment to serve as executor and posting bond, if necessary
  • Locating the beneficiaries named in the will
  • Locating and gathering all of the decedent’s assets
  • Obtaining a federal tax identification number for the estate
  • Opening a fiduciary bank account in the estate’s name to hold cash and liquidated assets
  • Transferring assets from the decedent’s ownership to the estate
  • Hiring valuation, genealogy or other experts, when necessary and appropriate
  • Paying creditors and claimants
  • Collecting amounts owed to the estate
  • Paying current and delinquent taxes as well as estate taxes, if any
  • Distributing all remaining property to the beneficiaries

With so many responsibilities and steps throughout, it is easy to understand that the probate administration process can feel overwhelming for those appointed to act as executor and unfamiliar with probate law and procedure. Ray works closely with his executor clients, assisting them throughout the probate process in complying with all of their obligations and in administering the estate as efficiently and stress-free as possible for the benefit of all of those involved.