J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Understanding the estate administration process

When individuals in Florida and elsewhere develop an estate plan, they understand that their plan begins to work when they die. The estate administration process is the procedure that is initiated when an individual's estate needs to be collected, managed and distributed to heirs. It is during this process that some problems could be encountered, such as will contests and other probate matters.

An executor is the person that helps with the administration of the decedent's estate. This individual is in control of the gathering of the decedent's assets, paying their debts and distributing the assets that remain to any named beneficiaries.

When this process is initiated, it is possible to have more than one state law apply. This occurs when a decedent owned real estate in multiple states. Typically, the state where the decedent resided at the time of death is the state that controls the estate administration process. However, it might be deemed necessary to do an ancillary proceeding to probate the property owned in other states.

The probate process can be either formal or informal. It is informal when basic paperwork is filed, the court appoints an executor, that person manages the estate, pays the debts of the estate holder, distributes assets and has the court approves the distribution. A formal probate proceeding occurs when a will is disputed. This involves court oversight and usually requires one or more hearings.

The administration of an estate can be a complex process and the above information only touches on the basics of the process. Therefore, if you are going through the process or have questions about your rights regarding the administration of a loved one's estate, it is important to become fully informed. An experienced attorney can help you navigate these matters and answer any questions you might have.

Source: Findlaw.com, "How to Administer an Estate," accessed Jan. 28, 2017

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