Estate administration is the legal process of settling debts of a decedent, paying any inheritance taxes which are owed and distributing the assets the deceased person owned at his death to the beneficiaries named in a will. If the deceased person left no will then the law (known as intestate succession) will dictate how assets are distributed.
A person is appointed by the Register of Wills to oversee this process. This person is called an executor in an estate where the person was named as such in the will. If no executor is named in a will, then a person will be appointed as the administrator according those eligible under the law. These are important jobs.
Estates do not always need to be administered. When a person dies with very few assets or with more debts than assets, the situation should be reviewed carefully before a person seeks to be appointed as an executor or administrator.
Mistakes can be costly. Lack of knowledge about the process can cause delays or create unnecessary expense for which the executor or administrator could be held personally responsible.
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