Canton Estate Administration Attorney
Many people assume that estate planning is something that only people with a lot of money or assets need to do. However, the term “estate” means much more than big bank accounts, antiques, and jewelry.
The truth is, nearly everyone has an estate, big or small, and the role of an estate administration lawyer is to ensure that the estate is properly allocated after the owner passes away. Estate administration is an integral part of estate planning.
Knowing where to start when estate planning or determining an estate administrator can be tricky, and it’s not something you should try to do on your own. Advice from a legal team with experience navigating these complex matters can help.
When you’re ready to start the estate planning process, including determining when or if you need an estate administrator, contact Slater & Zurz at (330) 968-2547. We have years of experience as Canton estate administration lawyers.
Understanding an estate administrator’s role starts with understanding the estate planning process, what’s involved, and when you need the advice of a knowledgeable lawyer for estate administration.
When someone dies, all their assets and possessions, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, and even clothing, become their estate.
Estate planning is the process of allocating and distributing the estate and making plans to protect assets for heirs. It also includes making plans for minor children or any wards for which the person was responsible.
Estate administration starts with determining the extent and value of the estate, then paying any outstanding debts claimed by creditors against the estate. Then, the estate administrator distributes the balance of the estate to any heirs and beneficiaries.
An estate administrator is necessary when anyone dies, no matter the value of their estate or whether they had a will. If a person dies without a will or interstate, the estate still needs an administrator to administer it.
In a will, the deceased names an executor who completes the estate administration process. Without a will, the probate court appoints an estate administrator to process and close the estate. Oftentimes, it’s someone familiar with Ohio probate laws and procedures.
Whether the deceased left a will or not, the estate will go through probate, overseen by a probate court. This procedure ensures that all payments of liens, debts, and other claims from creditors are processed correctly, and the debt claims are accurate. Probate also ensures that allocation of the estate complies with Ohio laws.
The steps of probate and the role of an estate administrator include:
- Identify all of the assets of the deceased
- Value the assets
- Complete an inventory of all personal property of the deceased
- Satisfy any claims against the estate by creditors or other parties
- Advise any heirs or next of kin of the deceased
- Sell any property from the estate if necessary to satisfy any debts
- File estate taxes and any other associated probate fees
- Distribute the assets per the directive of the will or as per Ohio probate laws
When someone hires an estate planning lawyer in Canton, the attorney will draft a will and name an executor on behalf of their client. That executor is the estate representative and is obligated to act in the estate’s interest, ensuring that the terms of the will are fulfilled.
The executor of a will and an estate administrator both have a fiduciary duty to the estate’s creditors and any beneficiaries. They are required by law to comply with the legal probate requirements, which is why many people consult with an estate administration attorney during the probate process.
When people draft a will, they often choose a close family member or trusted friend to act as the executor of the will. If someone dies without an executor, then Canton probate courts appoint an executor to serve the estate.
Many people don’t realize when they start the estate planning process that appointing an estate administrator isn’t just about picking the person closest to them. Administering an estate is a complex process and can be challenging for someone who is unfamiliar with the law.
At Slater & Zurz, in addition to helping you make arrangements, our estate planning attorneys can provide estate administration services. Professional estate attorneys understand Ohio probate laws and can help reduce costly delays that can impact the value of your estate and how much your heirs receive.
In addition, an estate administration lawyer acts as a neutral third party in case the terms of the will are contested. They also fairly distribute assets to the heirs.
When someone dies, the first step of the estate process is to formally open the estate in probate court. Then, the executor or the lawyer for estate administration files paperwork petitioning the probate court to open the estate.
If there is a will, the probate judge determines its validity. Then, the estate executor or administrator values the assets of the estate. This process can include arranging appraisals of jewelry, vehicles, antiques, art, real estate, or other valuable items. At this point, the contents of all bank and investment accounts are tallied.
The deceased’s outstanding creditors are also notified and given a limited opportunity to file a claim against the estate for the deceased’s debts. However, these claims must be validated in order to be approved, and the administrator may challenge the claims that are filed. Once debts are settled, estate taxes are paid from the estate.
Once the estate administrator settles all claims and taxes, they will distribute the remainder of the estate to the deceased’s heirs and beneficiaries. If there is a will, this is done according to the terms outlined in that document.
If a will explicitly states that a particular item is bequeathed to a specific person, then the item is transferred to the individual and not sold. Probate courts will also address specific allocation of assets like heirloom jewelry or a family home.
As you can see, an estate executor has a very important and busy role. Many people may not have someone close to them who is willing or capable of taking on this responsibility. If you are unsure whether you have someone in your life willing and able to act as an estate executor, then you may benefit from a Canton estate administration lawyer.
Although all practicing attorneys can legally act as estate administrators, not every lawyer chooses estate planning and administration as a practice area. Start by looking for experienced and respected estate planning law firms, like Slater and Zurz.
When you begin drafting a will, living will, power of attorney, or trust, you may also ask your lawyer whether they offer estate administrator services.
You will have greater peace of mind knowing that a professional will oversee your estate when you pass. Additionally, an unbiased professional may be better able to mediate disputes between your heirs.
Many estate planning law firms will list this prominently as part of their services. You may be able to find a referral from family or friends or look for reviews online.
Your estate planning lawyer works closely with you, and they should be someone you can work well with. Estate planning can be an emotional time for many people, too, so finding an experienced lawyer can help guide you through the process and calm your worries, giving you expert advice and answering all of your questions.
Everyone! If you have minor children, estate planning is essential to ensure that they are cared for by the guardian you prefer. If you have certain heirlooms that you want a particular person to have, estate planning is essential.
Finally, if you have real estate, or if you and a spouse are co-owners of a home and bank accounts, then you need estate planning to ensure that your family is taken care of after you pass. Business owners also benefit from estate planning, especially if they plan to transfer their interest in the business.
If someone you loved died recently without a will, you might benefit from the services of a professional attorney for estate administration. Choosing your own representative, instead of having the probate court appoint someone to administer the estate, can give you more peace of mind during the process.
After a loss, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, and while you’re grieving, you may not be in a position to make financial decisions about your loved one’s estate. We can help. Slater & Zurz has the expertise and knowledge of Ohio probate law to provide dedicated legal services. Do you need help with estate planning and estate administration for you or a family member? Contact Slater & Zurz by calling (330) 968-2547 today. Our estate planning lawyer in Canton can guide you through the process, answer your questions, and act as your estate’s legal representative if you need one.