Estate administration is one of the final steps in closing out a deceased individual’s affairs. It involves a highly regulated process called probate and often involves complex issues that can significantly impact the value of the estate and how it will be disbursed.
With an estate administration lawyer advising your every move, you will be prepared to face and resolve these issues effectively.
At Slater & Zurz, when we take an estate administration case, we focus on representing the best interests of the estate in accordance with Ohio probate law. If you are in need of an experienced lawyer in Akron, contact us at (330) 762-0700.
The death of an individual invokes an important legal process called probate. During probate, the estate of the deceased individual is administered according to their will and testament and the laws of the state of Ohio.
In the will, someone should be named as the executor or administrator of the will. This person may be compensated for their work for the estate. In most cases, all property belonging to the decedent must pass through probate.
When probate ends, the goal is to have a fully settled and disbursed estate. However, getting there can sometimes be challenging due to the many interested parties who may be involved, including:
- Family members
- Nonfamily heirs
- Tax agencies
Each of these may have an issue or interest in the process, which may lead to various legal complications.
In brief, the process begins with the presentation of the will and the filing of specific documents with the probate judge. One of the principal purposes of probate proceedings is to validate the will of the deceased and ensure its proper execution.
In some cases, an individual dies without a will. This is known as passing away “intestate.” When someone dies intestate, the courts will appoint an executor to administer the estate according to state probate laws.
Most debts you accrue in life do not go away upon your death. Federal and some private student loans are an exception to this. After the will has been determined to be valid, the next step is to total up the debts, liens, and other financial obligations the decedent had at death, then subtract their value from the estate’s assets.
Typical financial obligations we see at Slater & Zurz in Akron include the following:
- Credit card debts
- Tax debts
- Various types of liens
- Utility bills
Personal loans are another type of debt the court may have to figure into the calculations. Additionally, the executor may have to account for funeral and burial expenses.
The estate distribution process will take what is left after the deduction of expenses and debts and disburse it according to the will or probate law. It is important to note that not all of the assets held by the deceased person are subject to probate rules.
Non-probate property is the property that transfers immediately upon death to a beneficiary or other type of successor. It is essential that the administrator understand the difference between probate and non-probate property while reviewing an estate’s inventory.
Working with an Akron estate administration lawyer is particularly helpful at this stage in ensuring proper asset distribution and taxation.
As you would imagine, complex issues often arise during probate cases involving significant, high-value assets and substantial sums of money. However, small estates are not immune from probate issues.
Executors of all different sizes of estates regularly face significant legal challenges while executing their duties. For this reason, choosing to employ the services of an Akron estate administration lawyer is recommended to deal with these eventualities.
One hurdle often faced in estate administration is a contested will. Parties with standing and legitimate grounds for disputing a will sometimes appear. They may involve the executor in litigation if the interests of the estate so require. In such cases, an estate administration lawyer with an exemplary litigation record would be a key asset.
Some estates do not have wills to guide their administration. Therefore, the court appoints an administrator and uses state probate law to guide the distribution process.
According to Ohio law and customs, the court usually appoints a surviving spouse, an adult child, or the next of kin. When intestate cases occur, it is essential that the appointed executor understand the rules and procedures mandated by Ohio statutes.
Sometimes, the decedent’s financial obligations cause the estate to be insolvent. When this occurs, every party involved in probate, including the executor, the heirs, and creditors, must abide by strict state laws regarding the payment of debts and the distribution of assets.
If you have been named the executor, you will be in charge of these payments. The controlling statutes mandate the order in which interested parties are to be paid, with estate administration costs being the first expense on the list.
Tax issues are among the most complex issues an estate administrator may face. They may need to file income tax returns for the estate. For large estates, an estate administrator must make sure state or federal estate taxes are paid. Resolving estate tax issues may require the aid of an estate administration lawyer.
It requires great care and attention to detail to handle the myriad of duties involved in estate administration. The legal aspect of the process is but one portion of the monumental responsibilities you may face as an appointed executor in Akron and around the state, but it is enormously important.
With our Akron estate administration lawyers working with you, you can proceed with your work knowing that your legal bases are covered and that you are appropriately executing your duties under the law.
When you choose Slater & Zurz, you get a lawyer for estate administration who will:
- Gather and prepare necessary probate documents, including the will
- Begin the probate process by filing the appropriate paperwork
- Appear at probate hearings
- Help navigate the debt-repayment process
- Ensure the proper execution of the will
We will also handle anything else necessary to help you move through probate efficiently.
Many clients have put their faith in us to handle their important estate administration affairs. We have worked with executors on many occasions and under a variety of different circumstances to help them faithfully execute the last will and testament of a decedent and responsibly and efficiently close out their affairs.
We know how delicate and trying this time is for all involved in the estate administration process. As such, we strive to always work toward resolving estate administration issues in a timely manner. We also handle our clients’ concerns with the discretion and sensitivity they deserve.
Feel free to call (330) 762-0700 at any time to consult with a lawyer for estate administration.
If you are dealing with a large estate, a complex will, or any issues that can cause a hiccup in the administration of an estate, then you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer for estate administration in Akron.
Estate administration involves a lot of moving parts; the more there are, the more likely a legal problem will arise. Why not let a seasoned estate administration lawyer handle the legal issues so you can have the support you need as an estate administrator?
In Ohio, strict regulations and guidelines govern the lawyer’s fees in estate administration cases. Generally speaking, lawyer’s fees must be reasonable. Reasonableness in this context is guided by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to these rules, the following factors are used to judge reasonableness in estate administration lawyer fees:
- The time and labor plus the complexity of the case
- The likelihood of being precluded from other employment for accepting the estate administration employment
- Industry-standard fees
- The value of the estate and its final disposition
- Unique time constraints of the case
- The nature of the lawyer’s professional relationship with the client
- The estate administration lawyer’s experience, reputation, and skill
- Pricing structure; i.e., whether contingent or fixed
A close examination of these eight factors will ultimately help determine whether an attorney’s fees are reasonable. Additionally, these fees are paid from the estate and are not the responsibility of the appointed executor.
Contact Slater & Zurz at (330) 762-0700 today to speak with a lawyer in Akron to explore your options and strategies.