Estate administration is the process of maintenance and distribution of assets after someone dies. This process is executed in accordance with either the testamentary will of the decedent (person who died) or state law.
The Estate Administration Process
The estate administration process begins with the death of the decedent. Typically, the decedent's estate is opened by the executor, or other interested persons by filing an application with the court to administer the estate. The court will then appoint a formal executor or administrator as the personal representative of the decedent's estate. It is then the responsibility of the personal representative to administer the estate and to account to the court for its administration.
What Are the Estate Executor’s Duties?
The executor assumes responsibility of the decedent’s finances.This includes dealing with creditors, defending against lawsuits, managing the estate’s assets and identifying the will’s beneficiaries. The executor is limited to paying debts and taxes to creditors and the government from the estate’s assets.
Can an Executor Be Removed for Mismanagement?
In general, an executor can be removed for any of the following reasons:
- Waste or embezzlement
- Inability to execute the duties of the office
- Wrongful neglect of the estate
- Threat to the estate
Who Can Petition for Removal of an Executor?
Any interested person can petition to remove an executor. An interested person is usually any present or future beneficiary or creditor who has a stake in the estate. The petition for removal may be combined with a request for appointing a new, alternative personal representative.
Required to Petition for Removal?
The objecting party must present all facts showing "cause" for the executor's removal. If the court determines that there are sufficient grounds then the executor must show why they should not be removed from the position. If the executor fails to attend or answer the court’s request, they will automatically be removed as the representative.
Do I Need an Attorney Experienced with Estate Administration?
The person appointed to administer the estate may have tax or legal questions that need to be answered by an estate lawyer or a tax professional. An experienced estate administration lawyer will know what to do, and help guide you through the legal formalities.