Estate Planning and Administration

Providing Unmatched Expertise When You Need it Most


1. What is estate administration?

Estate administration is the process of collecting and managing the estate of someone who has passed, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs of the estate.

2. What is included in an estate?

An estate may include real estate properties, money, stocks, personal belongings, and other assets the person had. To put it simply, an estate is everything comprising the net worth of a person.

3. Do I need a lawyer to administer an estate?

It is not always necessary to have a lawyer administer an estate. Although, having a lawyer administer the estate can help eliminate friction and reduce stress for the family. If the assets in question require special oversight, family relationships are complicated, real estate assets are in different states or countries, or other complicated situations arise, you may need the help of a lawyer to administer.

4. What is testate estate?

Testate estate means that someone has passed with a legitimate will in place. This means that the person has decided who their assets in the estate will go to prior to their passing. This is different from those who pass without a will, which is called intestate estate.

5. What do I do if a relative doesn’t have a will?

When someone passes without a will, the potential heirs do not have say over what happens with the assets. When this happens, the estate goes into probate.

6. What is probate?

Probate is the legal process in which a court decides which potential heirs the assets of the estate will go to.

7. How long does the probate process of an estate take?

How long the probate process takes depends on how complicated the estate is. Probate can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.

8. What does a probate lawyer do?

A probate lawyer is a state licensed attorney who works alongside the executors and potential heirs of an intestate estate. A probate lawyer will help with collecting proceeds of a life insurance policy, identify and secure estate assets, assist with outstanding debts, manage the estate checking account, transfer assets to the heirs, and more.

9. What is estate planning?

Estate planning is deciding how your estate will be handled after your passing. You will want to give instructions on how things are handled and who will be given what assets of your estate. Not only do you want to decide what happens with your estate, but also make it as easy as possible for your estate to be managed and distributed after your passing.

10. What is a trust?

A trust gives legal protection to one’s estate and makes sure one’s estate is managed and distributed as they wish. Having a trust can also save time, reduce paperwork, and may avoid or reduce inheritance or estate taxes.

11. What is the difference between a will and a trust?

Both wills and trusts are a way to state who will receive the assets of your estate, they just each do it in different ways. The biggest difference is when they go into effect: a will goes into effect once you pass away, while a trust goes into effect immediately after signing and funding. 

A will is generally seen as a “simple” document. Wills generally allow you to name the guardians for your children and pets, designate where your assets will go, and state your final arrangement wishes. Wills often leave limited control over the distribution of your assets, which often leads to probate.

A trust is more complex than a will. Trusts offer greater control over when and how your assets are distributed. There are many different types and kinds of trusts. Trusts are often used to minimize the need for probate.

12. What is a trust attorney?

A trust attorney is an estate planning professional who will help you create the necessary paperwork to create a trust. A trust may allow your heirs to avoid probate after you pass away. A trust can be useful for those who have a large estate.

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