Dallas Estate Administration Lawyer

The passing of a loved one is a difficult time that will require grieving and personal forms of mourning. During the days, weeks and months following the death of a family member there will be additional responsibilities that must be met. The legal matters associated with attending to the estate of an individual who has died are referred to as estate administration. Specifically, estate administration encompasses the collection and proper management of a decedent's personal assets, real property and any debts. These things will have to be carried out according to the intentions established in the will or trust created by the person who has passed away or else under the laws of intestacy if they did not have a will.

The Role of Probate in TX

Estate administration, often referred to as probate, is the primary way in which the decedent's affairs and property will be managed. The Probate Court (or in smaller counties where there is no Statutory Probate Court, a county court at law) will determine whether a decedent's Last Will and Testament is valid and, if appropriate, appoint the person named in the Will to serve as Executor. With an Executor properly established, the Estate can then be managed accordingly. The assets will be gathered, the debts paid, and the decedent's assets divided and distributed. The same responsibilities are given to a named Administrator, whose job it will be to transfer assets to the appropriate heirs in the absence of an existing will.

The primary role of both Executors and Administrators is to locate pertinent documents related to the deceased and gather all assets that require collection and management. Included in the responsibilities expected of Executors and Administrators will be to correctly inventory the Estate, paying off a deceased's debts - including taxes - and eventually distributing the remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs. The Executor or Administrator may also be responsible for managing and distributing the decedent's half of the community property.

Breakdown of the Steps Involved

There are many steps involved in the process of completing the administration of an estate. Primarily these include the following:

Gathering Assets
The assets and property of a deceased individual will need to be accumulated. This is a job for the executor or administrator. A complete inventory of the estate will need to be made before the process is considered complete, and this inventory can only take place once the appropriate items have been located and gathered.

Appraising Assets
During the administration of an estate, the executor or administrator may need to have the assets or property appraised for use in the inventory and, under some circumstances, for tax purposes.

Paying Remaining Debts
If any debts or taxes remain after a person passes away, it is the responsibility of the executor or administrator to pay the debts or otherwise compromise the claims of any creditors before any inheritances can be paid or distributed out. Part of the responsibilities attributed to an executor / administrator will be notifying creditors of the person's passing and then using the funds from the estate to pay off the debts that have not yet been paid.

Distributing Remaining Assets
Distribution of assets is intentionally the last step in the estate administration process, as it will only be done if remaining assets exist after the deceased's estate has been properly appraised and the remaining debts have been paid. Assets will be distributed according to the decedent's will, and if there is no will, the law of intestacy will be applied instead.

In total, estate administration encompasses a variety of legal proceedings, all which require sound legal guidance to help the family members of the deceased individual carry out the legal obligations arising after death.