When a Loved One Dies
When a loved one dies, a difficult period of grief begins for friends and family of the decedent (the person who passed away). There is typically no need to address the decedent’s financial affairs in the days immediately following the death. Rather, friends and family should use that time to coordinate funeral arrangements and take care of themselves as they together grieve the loss of their loved one. When the family is ready to deal with the legal and financial affairs of their loved one, our probate attorneys will be here to help.
Estate administration is a general term used to describe the process of handling the financial affairs (the “estate”) of another. For example, when a person dies, someone other than the decedent must wind up and settle all of the decedent’s financial affairs. This type of administration requires that:
- The decedent’s assets are identified, valued, and characterized by type of ownership;
- The decedent’s valid debts are paid;
- All necessary tax returns are filed and taxes due are paid; and
- All remaining assets are distributed to those legally entitled to inherit them.
Probate administration is one type of estate administration. Technically, “probate” is a procedure by which a decedent’s last will and testament is proved valid in the Probate Court of the county where the decedent resided at his or her death. However, the term “probate” has come to refer generally to all procedures conducted through the Probate Court as they relate to the administration of a decedent’s estate.
Probate administration has developed a bad reputation within our society. Nevertheless, probate actually serves useful purposes for persons who did not make alternative estate plans in that it:
- Provides a means for protecting the assets of the decedent;
- Provides an organized and equitable manner in which to resolve conflicting claims to the decedent’s assets; and
- Provides a means for making an orderly distribution of the decedent’s assets to those who are legally entitled to receive them.
For more detailed information relating to estate and probate administration, please see our Probate/Estate Administration FAQs section below as well as the “Probate Information” section on our Resources Page. If you have any additional inquiries or if you are ready to begin the estate administration of a loved one, please feel free to contact our office at (614) 777-4600 to make an appointment with one of our probate attorneys.