When a loved one passes away, either with or without an estate plan, the estate must be administered. The concept of estate administration, which refers to the process of overseeing all aspects of an estate, is essential both for the executors and heirs named in a decedent’s will. To be more specific, assets of the estate must be properly inventoried and accounted for, final expenses must be paid properly, and distributions must be made according to the terms of a trust.
Additionally, from the executor’s standpoint, it is important to recognize one’s duties and powers under state law. For heirs, they should remember that they have the right to evaluate the actions of executors and defend their legal protections, when applicable.
A St. Charles County estate administration lawyer is prepared to assist you during probate or with any other legal complications that arise. A diligent estate planning lawyer could work to explain the concept of estate administration and the vital role that it plays towards the end of your life. They could also help executors remain within the confines of the law when administering an estate or representing the interests of heirs.
What Is an Executor’s Role During Estate Administration?
Estate administration describes the process of making sure that probate goes as smoothly as possible. Specifically, during the probate stage of estate administration, the executor is the individual who takes temporary control of assets and distributes them to the appropriate parties. This includes creditors who have valid claims against the decedent and heirs who stand to inherit property through a will.
It is important to recognize that not just anyone can become an executor. Instead, an executor receives their powers through receipt of letters testamentary. These documents come from the probate court and enable the executor to act as the guardian of the assets in the estate.
Executors have many important duties that they use to keep everything under control. For instance, they can open bank accounts, preserve the value of an estate’s assets, and pay all taxes and fees associated with that property.
However, these powers are not unlimited. Executors are required to always act in the best interests of the estate, and only perform what another reasonable person would do in their role. This means that they must take actions to protect the value of the estate and remember that they are a servant acting for the benefit of heirs. If a recently appointed executor is confused about their powers, rights, and obligations during estate planning, a knowledgeable attorney in St. Charles County could answer any kind of question.
How Could an Attorney Help with Estate Administration?
When it comes to effective estate administration, both executors and heirs could benefit from seeking out the assistance of a legal representative. Executors will want to better understand their role under the law and ensure that their actions do not lead to legal complications. For instance, a probate court may require that an executor provide a bond to ensure their compliance with their obligations to Missouri Revised Statute § 473.157. Failing to properly perform all of one’s duties as an executor could see a person being personally liable for the forfeiture of this bond.
Meanwhile, an attorney could also help people who believe that improper estate administration has led to a significant loss of their estate’s value. MO Rev. Stat. § 473.140 says that a court may act on its own initiative to remove an executor who is not performing as they should be. Interested parties may also petition a court to take this step. Removing an executor might, thankfully, leave that individual personally liable for any damage to the estate. If a family is concerned that their executor is mishandling the process of estate administration, they should consult a dedicated lawyer in St. Charles County.
Contact a St. Charles County Estate Administration Attorney Immediately
Executors of estates play a vital role in estate administration. When these people or organizations receive their legal authority from a probate court, they have an obligation under the law to carefully protect the assets in question. Failure to do so could see this party losing their privileges and being personally responsible for resulting damage.
Depending on your family’s situation, a St. Charles County estate administration lawyer may be able to help you. If you have learned that you have been nominated to serve as an executor, they could work to guide you down the right path. If you suspect that an executor has violated the law or their duty to the estate, one of our seasoned attorneys could help you remove that party from their position and pursue appropriate compensation. Reach out today to learn more.