Is choosing an estate administrator a big decision? Considering all of the duties that an administrator may face, our estate planning law firm would caution against naming someone solely for sentimental reasons. In fact, a neutral party may be best positioned to avoid disputes among loved ones and handle the administrative deadlines that can quickly pile up after the passing of a loved one.
Estate administration requires more than just reading the decedent's will
Keep in mind that probate does not happen by itself. Rather, an estate administrator must file the necessary paperwork, provide legal notice to potential beneficiaries and creditors of the estate, comply with any deadlines or hearings set by the probate court, and pay the filing fees. While probate is pending, the administrator must simultaneously pay off any debts and taxes of the estate. Even then, there may be a priority accorded to certain debts, and an administrator must have a legal understanding to avoid breaching the fiduciary duty that he or she owes to the beneficiaries of the estate.
If this sounds complicated and potentially risky, you're right. Not surprisingly, many of our clients find that a law firm that focuses on estate planning can be the ideal choice to serve as an estate administrator. We keep our fees reasonable by assigning a paralegal to each estate case, in addition to an attorney. The paralegal may be able to respond to routine questions and issues, in addition to preparing initial drafts of paperwork.