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Free Estate Administration Info Sheet

Kelly & West News

The Complicated Process of Estate Administration

Estate administration is not easy. The days following the death of a loved one are an emotional and challenging time for the family of the deceased. The last thing they want to have on their plate is the process of claiming their loved one’s assets.

Most people assume someone’s belongings go directly to the family without any hiccups; however, probate — or the process of transferring legal ownership — can be challenging. Here are a few of the things you should know if you’re handling a decedent’s estate.

Do I really need to do this?

Many Harnett County residents assume they don’t need to go through probate. People often think that if you’re not rich and don’t have much, there’s no need to manage an estate. But that’s not true. If you have a house, car, or bank account, your family or someone may have to go through the probate process as any form of personal property that is titled, such as a car, will have to be transferred by the court. Even if your loved one had a Will, someone may still have to administer the estate.

How long does probate take?

Even when families are proactive and establish a Will, estate administration can take up to 12 months or longer.

Assets in Multiple Locations

If your loved one lived in one state, but also owned property in other states, you may need to go through probate in each state.

Meanwhile …

Your family member may be leaving you his or her money, car, or house. Even though you won’t yet have possession of those items, you may still have to make payments on a car or house and must pay property taxes, too, thus incurring a burden without the benefit during the time the assets are tied up in probate.

Public Records

Wills are public documents, meaning anyone can access them through the courthouse. If you are forced to enter probate, you will be required to register lots of information that you may prefer not to be public knowledge. That includes asset information about the deceased, personal information regarding the beneficiaries, and many other details. Administering an estate also requires you to fill out a lot of paperwork and provide documentation such as:

  • Bank statements;
  • Bank signature cards; and
  • Car titles and DMV records.

How much will estate administration cost?

Many people dive into estate administration, thinking it might not be so bad. After all, you may not want to pay a lawyer to manage it. However, if you go about the process on your own and make a mistake, it will likely cost more to hire a lawyer to fix it — and that is IF it can be fixed. While, yes, there is a cost to have someone handle the estate, it will go much faster when you hire an attorney, and it means a lot less work for you!

We recommend Harnett County residents set up a Trust in advance so their families can avoid this process. You can learn more about that here. Or, contact us if you need help with your loved one’s estate.

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