When an individual dies, all property held in their name, such as money, real estate, stocks, personal belongings, etc., may become part of their estate. An estate administration attorney assists a personal representative with managing a deceased individual’s estate to pay off their debts, fulfill tax obligations, and distribute the remaining assets according to their will or state laws if no will is left behind. The time required to administer an estate will vary depending on whether a will has been drafted and filed, the extent and value of an estate’s assets, and the number of beneficiaries.
In cases where a trust holds the deceased individual’s assets, or if they have designated the beneficiaries of all their assets, probate may not be required. In non-probate cases, an estate administration lawyer may be helpful to assist in transferring assets to beneficiaries.
What are the Duties of an Estate Administration Attorney?
Once the probate court appoints an administrator or personal representative, an administration attorney will begin untangling an individual’s financial dealings and distributing their property by completing several legal and financial duties. These duties can include:
- Identifying and gathering assets. The estate administration lawyer assists the personal representative in gathering the deceased individual’s assets, including real estate, investments, personal property, bank and retirement accounts, etc.
- Paying taxes and debts. Before beneficiaries can receive assets from an estate, all debts and taxes owed by the deceased must first be paid. This can include estate taxes, income taxes, bank loans, and all other financial obligations.
- Notifying beneficiaries and transferring assets. As part of the probate and estate administration process, the attorney may need to contact and inform all beneficiaries of what assets they’re entitled to receive under the stipulations of the deceased’s will. The attorney may also assist in facilitating the transfer of those assets.
- Advising on any legal issues. The estate attorney will advise beneficiaries on all intestacy laws and the probate process in cases where the deceased died without a will.
- Preparing and filing all required documents. The estate administration attorney may assist in preparing and filing all legally required documents, such as Inventory of Assets, Estate Tax Returns, Letters of Administration, etc.
It’s essential to work with an experienced estate administration law firm to ensure that all required documents are correctly prepared and filed to avoid any potential legal issues that could impact an estate’s distribution or its proper management.
What Issues Can an Estate Administration Attorney Help Solve?
An experienced estate administration attorney can help navigate the complex legal issues that surround the execution of a will and the management of an estate. The most common issues an estate attorney assists with include the following:
- Intestacy laws. When an individual dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to a state’s intestacy laws. These laws vary from state to state, so you will require the assistance of an experienced Tennessee attorney to help you navigate any potential issues with the distribution of the estate.
- Probate. In Tennessee, probate is more straightforward than in other states, with fewer court requirements and fees. An experienced attorney can help reduce the time needed to complete the probate process.
- Homestead and spousal protections. An estate administration attorney should assist a deceased person’s family, particularly minors and spouses, in determining what protections are available from creditors.
- Small estate procedures. Smaller estates may meet the standards for a simplified probate procedure, which is often faster and less expensive. In Tennessee, any estate worth less than $50,000 can qualify for this simplified version of probate.
It’s essential to consult with an experienced estate administration law firm in Tennessee to understand how the state’s laws and regulations may impact an estate’s administration.
Our Nashville Probate Lawyers are Here to Help
Our team of experienced estate administration attorneys at MHPS can assist you during this challenging period to successfully manage a loved one’s estate and execute their will. From helping manage the estate’s finances and filing all legal documentation to distributing assets and resolving disputes, our team will always act in the estate’s and its beneficiaries’ best interest.