Cleveland Estate Administration Attorney
Estate administration refers to the process of managing and closing a person’s estate after their passing. Many individuals are unaware of how this process works and what it entails until they find themselves in the middle of it.
While estate administration can seem scary and confusing, it doesn’t have to be. An estate administration attorney can help you navigate the process from beginning to end, helping to make sure every task is handled accurately, including taking care of debts and distributing assets and property, and the estate can successfully be closed.
The estate administration lawyers at Slater & Zurz have the knowledge, resources, and experience to help you confidently take on an estate administration. We’re ready to assist you.
Estate Administration Explained
When you pass away, your property, assets, and debts become part of your “estate.” In an estate administration, a chosen personal representative handles your estate, completing several critical tasks, including distributing your property and paying your remaining debts.
The exact process your personal representative engages in depends on whether you have a solid estate plan, including wills and trusts, or you pass away intestate, meaning you didn’t have a will.
The Personal Representative
The personal representative, also called an executor or estate administrator, is the individual in charge of your estate.
When the state formally appoints your personal representative, they have special legal permission to handle your estate and perform otherwise impossible tasks, including closing bank accounts and selling property.
Once appointed, the personal representative manages your estate until their duties end, after they’ve checked off every task and closed your estate.
Who Can Serve as a Personal Representative?
When you create a will, you have the ability to choose your personal representative. Typically, you choose more than one person in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
A personal representative can be anyone you trust, including:
- A spouse
- A child or grandchild
- A parent
- Another family member
- A friend
Additionally, more than one personal representative can work together to manage the estate.
The personal representative, while dealing with legal and financial topics, does not have to be an expert. They could hire a lawyer for estate administration to help navigate the process from beginning to end.
If a decedent does not have a will that appoints a personal representative, the probate court can appoint one.
Duties of a Personal Representative in an Estate Administration
The personal representative has many crucial responsibilities throughout the estate administration process. The process is unique to the decedent’s situation and estate but often includes the following.
Opening a Probate Case
If probate is necessary, the personal representative must petition the court to open a probate case. Probate is the court-supervised process of administering a decedent’s estate.
Even if the decedent chooses a personal representative and details their choice in their will, the personal representative must open a probate case for the court to appoint the personal representative formally. They are limited in what they can legally do without the court’s appointment.
Opening a probate case involves filing certain documents with the court, including:
- A petition to open probate
- The decedent’s will, if they had one
- The decedent’s death certificate
Once the court opens the case and appoints the personal representative, they can officially begin their duties.
It is worth noting probate is not required for every estate. If the decedent had a strong estate plan with wills and trusts, the personal representative might be able to bypass probate altogether. Also, certain estates may qualify for a simplified estate process, depending on the decedent’s situation.
After the passing of a loved one, it’s very common to have several questions regarding probate and estate administration. Speak with an estate administration lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, as soon as possible.
Locating and Maintaining Property and Assets
The personal representative needs to take inventory of all of the decedent’s property and assets, including:
- Real property
- Vehicles, such as cars and boats
- Personal property
- Checking, savings, and investment accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance policies
Essentially, the personal representative must locate anything the decedent had that will later be distributed to their beneficiaries.
The personal representative must also maintain the property. For example, they must complete tasks like continuing to pay the mortgage on the decedent’s home to avoid foreclosure and making necessary repairs to protect the home’s value.
A personal representative is responsible for maintaining any property in good shape for the benefit of the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Managing the Decedent’s Finances
The personal representative manages the decedent’s finances, ensuring no finance-related tasks are left undone.
Managing finances can include:
- Closing bank and savings accounts and moving those funds
- Opening a new bank account for estate purposes
- Paying off credit cards and closing the accounts
- Making necessary payments like mortgages, car notes, and insurance
Additionally, at the beginning of a probate case, the personal representative must notify creditors of the decedent’s passing, allowing creditors to make claims for outstanding debts if necessary.
While managing finances can seem like a daunting task, an attorney for estate administration can provide invaluable assistance.
Distributing Property and Assets to Heirs and Beneficiaries
Once it’s time to distribute the property, the personal representative will facilitate this step. They will ensure the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries get everything they’re entitled to, including:
- Real property
- Personal Property
- Life insurance policies
This is one of the most important steps in the estate administration process.
This step can be stressful when an heir has extensive assets and property. An estate administration lawyer can guide you.
Closing the Estate
Once every task has been taken care of, including property distribution, debt resolution, and paying any taxes necessary on the estate, the personal representative can petition the court to close the estate officially.
Once the estate case is finished, the personal representative is relieved of their duties.
How an Estate Administration Lawyer Can Help You
Whether the personal representative needs to go through probate or not, administering an estate can be intimidating, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. Nonetheless, an estate administration lawyer in Cleveland can help.
An attorney can help you from inception to completion, with tasks including:
- Determining the estate administration process
- Drafting and filing court documents
- Notifying heirs and beneficiaries
- Locating and maintaining estate property
- Handling the decedent’s financial matters
- Notifying creditors
- Tax-related matters
- Closing out the estate with the court
Additionally, you can trust your Cleveland estate administration lawyer to support you and address all of your questions and concerns throughout the process.
Having a knowledgeable estate administration attorney on your side can provide great peace of mind.
Let Slater & Zurz Assist You with an Estate Administration in Cleveland
For over three decades, Slater & Zurz has assisted clients with estate administration matters. Our firm understands how complicated and confusing the process can be for many, so we aim to provide the highest-quality legal services to help ease some of the stress.
We want to make our clients feel confident in their decision to work with us, and we do everything we can to help resolve issues and close cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Schedule a consultation with one of our probate lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio. Call our firm at (440)557-2861 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!
An estate administration lawyer in Cleveland can help you with all estate administration-related matters.
An attorney for estate administration is often well-versed in several areas of estate law, including estate planning, wills and trusts, and probate. They can use their knowledge of the law in all of these areas, as well as their experience, to help you throughout the estate administration process.
There are several reasons to hire an estate administration lawyer. The most common reasons people hire these attorneys frequently include the following:
- They don’t know where to begin after the death of a loved one
- They feel unconfident handling the estate administration on their own
- They want to ensure every step and task is handled properly and timely
Everyone has a personal reason for hiring a lawyer for estate administration. It is best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible before beginning the process.
You should consider hiring an estate administration lawyer is any of the following reasons apply to you:
- You’re feeling overwhelmed and confused
- You’ve never managed an estate before
- You’re nervous about handling the estate administration process alone
- You’re unsure of certain topics regarding estate administration, including the legal and financial aspects
- You anticipate bumps on the path to closing the estate
There are many reasons why hiring an estate administration attorney is beneficial for you and everyone involved. Not only are you never alone in the process, but a lawyer can also help close the estate quicker than you can when doing it all on your own.