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Understanding the responsibilities of administrating an estate

Agreeing to be the administrator for the estate of a loved one in New York may seem simple, but there are numerous responsibilities involved. An administrator's job typically begins upon the death of the individual to whom the estate belonged, meaning that this could be an emotional process. Additionally, there are many steps involved in handling the remaining assets of that individual.

If a will exists, the wishes of the decedent may be clear, but in intestate situations, the lack of a will leaves much of the decision-making process in the hands of the court system. The three phases of administrating an estate include management of assets, finalizing financial obligations to debtors and the government, and handling asset distribution. Before probate begins, issues such as burial, locating documents and safety deposit boxes, and obtaining copies of a death certificate are typically addressed. The more organized the estate is, the easier its administration will typically be.

With more advanced methods of estate planning, an individual can simplify the process for their selected administrator. Some assets can be managed while that party is still alive so that transfer is automatic upon their death. Naming of beneficiaries on retirement accounts and life insurance policies may also minimize probate matters. Forming a living trust may allow the probate process to be minimized or completely avoided. In addition, an individual who has been asked to serve as the executor of a will or as a trustee might be entitled to compensation for their services due to the extent and complexity of the task.

In addressing estate plans in a family, it may be prudent to discuss one's estate and administration wishes with an intended executor or administrator. This may minimize confusion on various issues while making the task more manageable for the person to be appointed. Legal guidance may be important during this process. A lawyer could serve as an advisor throughout the planning of an estate.

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