If a loved one has died without a will, intestacy laws apply to set the distribution of assets to certain living relatives. However, a loved one must step forward to seek appointment as the administrator of the estate. An administrator will be entitled to a percentage fee of the estate, but will also have significant responsibilities. Primarily, you must collect and protect assets (lock up the house) and identify debts to be paid. Many times, it takes months to identify assets and debts, so there is a significant amount of organizational skills required.
Additionally, there are not always sufficient assets to pay the debts timely….for instance, you need to sell the house to get the funds to pay the bills. By law, if the estate has insufficient assets, you must pay certain debts first – funeral, rent, medical, administrative, secured debts – before you pay the credit cards and other unsecured debts in a pro- rated process approved by the court. You must get a clearance that no funds are owed to the Division of Public Welfare as well. Notices must go to all beneficiaries, an inventory must be filed within three months, and an inheritance return must be filed. You can save five percent if it is filed within 90 days. As an administrator, you can be held personally liable to the beneficiaries if you do not handle these fiduciary responsibilities with care.
A probate lawyer can expedite the process for everyone, assure that you have fulfilled your responsibilities in accordance with the law, and get you to the end line and filing of the final status report. At Voltz law, we have served hundreds of clients with small, medium, and large estates navigate this process and have contacts in real estate and estate sales to help you with all the issues you will face. You are still in control, but we can help you protect yourself, streamline the process, and even minimize beneficiary complaints down the line.