Legal Aspects of Estate Administration refers to the process of managing and distributing a deceased person's assets and liabilities. This process is governed by either the decedent's will, if they left one, or by laws of intestacy if they did not.
The first step in estate administration is probating the will, which involves establishing its validity. If the decedent left a valid will, the court will appoint an executor or executrix to administer the estate. If the decedent died intestate, the court will appoint an administrator or administratrix. The appointed individual will be issued letters of administration as evidence of their authority to manage the estate.
The personal representative is responsible for taking possession and control of the decedent's property, including any business enterprises. They must also submit an inventory of the decedent's assets and liabilities to the court within a specified period of time, and file supplementary reports if additional assets are discovered later.
The personal representative must also give public notice in a newspaper of general circulation to request that any individuals with claims against the estate present them within a specified time frame. Certain allowances and exemptions, such as homestead allowance, family allowance, and exempt property, have priority over other claims against the estate.
Once these allowances and claims have been paid, the personal representative is responsible for distributing the remaining assets of the estate in accordance with the decedent's wishes as outlined in their will, or according to the laws of intestacy if there is no will. The personal representative must also file the necessary financial statements and reports with the court throughout the estate administration process.