Assets do not automatically transfer to heirs and beneficiaries when someone passes away. When someone dies without a will, their estate must go through the process of estate administration. Some properties will automatically transfer, but other assets will be subject to state inheritance laws. Heirs, potential beneficiaries, and creditors must be notified.

Administering someone’s estate can be complex. Consider hiring a Staten Island estate administration lawyer when you are responsible for distributing a loved one’s estate. Many issues could arise when you are distributing someone’s property or settling their debts, and a knowledgeable estate planning attorney could identify potential complications. Louis Lepore works closely with his clients to streamline the process and ensure it runs smoothly. Estate administrators owe a legal duty to the heirs and beneficiaries, so it is imperative to do it correctly and efficiently.

The Basics of Estate Administration

Settling someone’s affairs after their death is not always simple. Property can transfer through the probate process when a will exists. However, when someone dies without a will, their estate administration follows the laws of intestacy. Not all assets need to go through probate; some pass directly to designated beneficiaries, including:

  • Assets held in a living trust
  • Property transferred as a life estate
  • Bank or retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary
  • Property owned jointly or by spouses as tenants by the entirety

The court will apply the state’s inheritance laws when someone dies without a will. Usually, this means heirs are spouses, children, and other relatives who could inherit the property or assets of the estate. An estate administration lawyer in Staten Island could help identify heirs when there are no designated beneficiaries.

Duties of an Estate Administrator

The court must appoint an estate administrator when someone dies without a will. The role of an executor or estate administrator is to ensure the process of settling the estate runs smoothly. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for three main functions: collecting assets, paying liabilities such as debts, expenses, and taxes, and distributing property to beneficiaries.

State law determines who can administer an estate. The order of priority is spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, or any other person the court deems eligible or qualified. Those who want to serve as an administrator for a loved one or friend who passed can petition the court as long as the heirs are notified.

The administrator of someone’s estate owes a fiduciary duty to the heirs and beneficiaries and could be held liable for any mistakes. Because of this, it is common for executors and estate administrators to seek assistance from an experienced Staten Island estate administration lawyer.

Call a Staten Island Estate Administration Attorney for Assistance

When your loved one dies without a will, you might be concerned with what will happen to their assets. Most people are not familiar with state intestacy laws, which control what happens to an estate when there is no will.

Fortunately, a Staten Island estate administration lawyer can help you navigate this difficult time. Louis Lepore has years of experience helping family members and administrators with the estate administration process. He could apply his knowledge and skills to resolve disputes and efficiently administer the decedent’s assets. To schedule a consultation, call the office today.