If someone close to you has passed away, you or another individual in your family may have been appointed as that person’s estate administrator. As a result, you may be wondering what exactly this means and what it consists of. The good news is that the duties of an estate administrator are generally simple. However, depending on your unique situation and circumstances, you may be responsible for completing a few complicated tasks as well.
What is an estate?
An estate is typically your family member or loved one’s properties, savings, checking accounts, jewelry, art, digital assets and any other valuable items and belongings that they want to leave behind to their family and loved ones. Therefore, if you are chosen and appointed to be a person’s estate administrator, you will be handling these possessions.
What does an estate administrator do and why would a person need one?
When an individual dies and does not leave a will behind, an estate administrator deals with the ins and outs of the person’s estate. They handle all the hard and challenging parts that are going on behind the scenes while others are mourning the loss. For example, an estate administrator is finding out who the deceased individual’s beneficiaries are, how the items should be divided equally, what debt the person left behind that needs to be paid, and more.
Many people might assume that when a loved one passes away that people will grieve peacefully to themselves. However, this is not always the case. Instead, it is common for people to lash out and become angry when realizing that specific possessions or belongings are going to certain people. Therefore, an estate administrator oversees the deceased individual’s estate to help ease family members’ and loved ones’ minds and to reduce the possibility of conflicts and disagreements.
The difference between an estate administrator and an estate executor
You have most likely heard of both of the two terms that are commonly used when a loved one dies and leaves behind an estate, which are an estate administrator and an estate executor. However, you may be confused or unsure about the difference between these two terms. Here is the difference:
- An estate administrator is appointed by a succession court if the deceased person did not create and leave behind a will and trust. An estate administrator may also be appointed if an executor does not carry out their duties or responsibilities.
- An estate executor is selected by the deceased individual before they pass away to hand out and take care of their estate belongings. The estate executor is required to look over the estate, pay any remaining bills or debts, and distribute what is left to the appropriate beneficiaries.
As you can see, an estate administrator and an estate executor are very similar. The difference between these two important roles is how they are chosen.
The various tasks that an estate administrator must accomplish
While being an estate administrator is something that you should take pride in, you should also be aware of the fact that you will need to complete many various tasks before you are done managing your loved one’s estate. Some of these tasks include:
- Collecting and gathering assets of the deceased person
- Looking for and paying off any state and federal taxes
- Paying off the deceased individual’s bills, debts, and any other expenses left behind
- Opening an estate account to place all estate money and funds in
- Passing out any remaining possessions to beneficiaries
- Following the oath that they committed to when being appointed
- Filing a petition with the succession, asking to close the person’s estate after everything has been paid off and all items have been properly distributed
In order to locate all assets of the deceased loved one, the estate administrator may need to look through and analyze all personal records, files, and items. This may require some digging and could take a long time to complete. However, the last thing you want to do is find out that you missed valuable information or assets in the future after the estate is closed.
Who is usually the estate administrator in New Orleans, Louisiana?
To become an estate administrator, you most likely need to be a surviving spouse or a person closely related to the deceased person. While it is possible to become an estate administrator even if you are not the individual’s close relative or spouse, it does not happen very often. However, as long as the spouse or next of kin person approves and agrees to you becoming the estate administrator, there is a high chance that you will be appointed. If the relatives or spouse cannot decide, the succession court will decide who should handle the details of the deceased person’s estate.
What if my family member has passed away, but I cannot locate a will?
If your family member has passed away and you cannot locate a will, you should let the court know that there is no will, and ask if you or another trustworthy person can become the administrator of the estate. However, there will need to be an in-depth search conducted to make sure that the will is not hidden or that someone else does not have it before an individual is appointed as the administrator of the estate.
Does an estate administrator automatically inherit or receive some of the assets?
An estate administrator does not automatically inherit or receive a deceased family member’s assets. Instead, they are appointed by the court and responsible for developing a plan and ensuring that everything left behind goes where it needs to. The only way you may be able to receive some of the person’s assets is if you are closely related to them. For example, if you are their spouse or child, you will be one of the first people to receive some of the individual’s belongings. If the individual has no spouse or child, the assets would then be distributed to their parents or siblings.
If you recently lost a family member or loved one and have questions or concerns regarding their estate, The Law Office of James A. Graham is here to legally assist you. Our team offers confidential consultations in our New Orleans office, and we are more than happy to schedule your initial meeting to begin discussing your potential estate case. Please fill out our contact form to get the legal information you need and deserve today.