Once you have all of your estate planning documents in place, then what? Who actually makes sure all of your wishes are carried out after you pass? The answer is your estate administrator. But what exactly is an estate administrator and how is an administrator of an estate appointed?
What is an Estate Administrator?
One of the key components of your estate plan is designating your administrator. This is the person in charge of compiling your assets and managing your estate through probate – the legal process to distribute the estate of a person after they pass away. Choosing the right administrator is an important decision. You should choose someone you trust to ensure that all your final wishes are met and your wealth is distributed properly.
How is an Administrator of an Estate Appointed?
The estate administrator, or executor, is typically named in the estate plan. However, if the deceased person does not have a will or estate plan, the administrator is nominated by the court (often a surviving spouse or next of kin). They will take into consideration the following personal attributes.
- An estate administrator must be well-organized
- An estate administrator must have strong communication skills
- An estate administrator must have integrity
- An estate administrator must be impartial
What Are an Estate Administrator’s Duties?
Every estate is different and, therefore, the duties of the administrator vary from estate to estate. The duties of the administrator also vary depending on whether or not there is an estate plan. However, regardless of the circumstances, here are some of the common duties of an estate administrator.
- Creating an inventory of assets (having them appraised if necessary)
- Settle any outstanding debts and pay bills and taxes (state and federal)
- Issue a notice to debtors and creditors
- Collect any money owed to the deceased
- Request life insurance policies payable to the estate
- Managing asset distribution once the estate is settled
If the deceased doesn’t have a will, the property will go to the decedent’s relatives, according to Maryland Law (Md. Code, Estates and Trusts §§ 3-101 to 3-112). The court rules for estate administration are found in Title 6 of the Maryland Rules (Md. Code, Estates and Trusts § 10-101 and Title 6 of the Maryland Rules).
More Estate Administration FAQs
Aside from the questions we’ve already tackled in this article – what is an estate administrator, how is an administrator of an estate appointed, and what are their duties – there are several other frequently asked questions (FAQs) we’re often asked about estate administration. We will do our best to answer these below.
- What is an Estate Plan? An estate plan designates how your assets will be distributed after death with tax benefits in mind, outlines how you would like to receive care as you grow older, and who can make decisions for you on your behalf.
- Is an Estate Administrator Compensated? In most cases, yes. Managing an estate through probate is a long and time-consuming process. And because of this, many opt to set aside money within their will to properly compensate the administrator for their time. In the event that there is no will, the state decides how best to compensate the administrator using a percentage of the estate.
- Can an Administrator Sell Property? This depends on state laws, but, typically, an estate administrator is able to sell property to pay outstanding debts on behalf of the estate. However, the administrator will need to obtain court approval before listing or selling any property.
- Does an Estate Administrator Need an Attorney? The short answer is no…but it is recommended. The probate process can be complex, so it can be incredibly beneficial to have an experienced estate administration attorney to help guide the administrator every step of the way.
- When Should I Visit an Estate & Trust Administration Attorney? Ideally, you should decide on an estate and trust administrator during your estate planning process. After all, your estate and trust administrator will manage your estate plan and trusts after you pass away. You should choose an attorney that you feel comfortable working with and believe will properly oversee your plan.
An Experiences Estate & Trust Administration Attorney in Maryland
PathFinder Law Group is an estate planning law firm in Towson, Maryland with over 50 years of experience. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs. We represent our clients, trustees, and agents in estate and trust administration. Here are a few examples of estate plans and trusts we handle for our clients:
- Estate Plans
- Probate Estates
- Special Needs Trusts
- Pet Trusts
- Revocable Trusts
- IRA Retirement Trusts
To contact PathFinder Law Group about your Estate Administration needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.