Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult and stressful. During this emotional time in your life you may also be faced with having to administer the person’s estate and trusts.
Administration refers to the process that is used to transfer the deceased’s assets to the intended beneficiaries. Whether or not the decedent dies with a Will helps determine the procedures that are used. At Hollander & Hollander, P.C., we are legal professionals experienced with estate and trust administration and can provide the guidance you need to put your mind at ease.
ABOUT ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
An individual’s “estate” includes anything that a person owned at the time of passing, with a few exceptions, such as the family home under the Probate Homestead Exemption, as well as various types of non-probate assets, generally assets where the beneficiary has been predetermined, such as life insurance.
There are also property law rules regarding joint ownership, but jointly-owned property generally passes to the survivor. The estate passes according to the Will (if one exists). If there is no Will in place, and one is said to have died intestate, some statutes control the passing of the estate (i.e. intestacy statute). The process of dealing with the estate, including clearing debts and distributing assets in accordance with a Will, is known as the probate process.
ABOUT TRUST ADMINISTRATION
A trust is a right to property whereby one entity ( the trustee) holds property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). Trusts can be created before death (living trust) or created by a Will (testamentary trust).
Trustees have a variety of duties and must administer the trust with the highest standards of honesty and loyalty to the beneficiaries. Some of a trustee’s duties include:
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
- Paying taxes on behalf of the estate
- Maintaining accurate accounting logs
THE PROBATE PROCESS
Probate is a court case that deals with:
- Deciding if a Will exists and is valid
- Determining who the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries are
- Determining how much the decedent’s property is worth
- Taking care of the decedent’s financial responsibilities
- Transferring the decedent’s property to the heirs or beneficiaries
In a probate case, an executor (if there is a Will) or an administrator (if there is no Will) is appointed by the court as a personal representative. Under the supervision of the court, this person is responsible for collecting assets, paying debts and expenses, and then distributes the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries who have the legal right to inherit. The entire process can take months to years, depending on the complexity of the estate.
LET US ASSIST YOU WITH ESTATE AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION
Losing someone close to you is difficult, and navigating the probate system while you are in mourning is not an easy task. At Hollander & Hollander, P.C., we put our knowledge of the California probate process to work for you so you can rest assured your loved one’s estate is administered in accordance with governing laws.
Contact the experienced estate administration attorneys at Hollander & Hollander, P.C. today to set up a no-obligation, free initial consultation and find out how we can assist you throughout the estate and trust administration process.