What is Estate Administration?
When a person passes away, they leave behind assets which need to be distributed to beneficiaries, less any liabilities. The process of managing and settling these assets and liabilities, and the transition from the deceased person to the beneficiaries, is referred to as the ‘estate administration’.
An executor (if named in the Will) or an administrator (if appointed by the Court because there is either no Will or no one named as executor in the Will) bears the responsibility for managing the deceased’s affairs and transferring the assets to the beneficiaries. To verify the authority of the person named in the Will as executor to conduct this process, the Estate Administration process may involve obtaining from the court, a Grant of Probate. Where there is no Will or no named executor in a Will, and an administrator is required, then usually the next of kin for the deceased will have to apply to the court for what is called a Grant of Letters of Administration, in order to administer the estate.
The estate administration process can be confusing, complex, and difficult to deal with especially after the loss of a loved one. An experienced estate administration lawyer such as the team at Estate First Lawyers can help guide you through this process and apply to the court for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
There are specific duties and obligations that the executor or administrator owe to the estate and to the beneficiaries. In certain circumstances, if these duties are not accomplished, the executor or administrator can be replaced and/or might be held personally liable (for instance, in relation to unpaid tax liabilities of the deceased, distributing too early, etc). These risks are detailed more here. It is vital that an executor or administrator obtain professional advice from an estate administration lawyer during this process to minimise their personal risk.