When people in Wheaton write their wills, often they choose someone they love and trust to serve as executor and administer the estate. While it may be flattering to be chosen for the role, it could be intimidating as well. Most people are uncertain about how to fulfill all the legal obligations.

Assistance from an estates and trusts lawyer could prove extremely beneficial when it comes to estate administration in Wheaton. There are many tasks associated with estate administration and mistakes could prove costly and even lead to personal liability.

Overview of Estate Administration

Everyone has an estate. The term refers to the assets someone owns at the time they die, as well as the debts left behind. Estate administration in Wheaton involves finding and valuing assets, paying bills, and distributing any remaining property to beneficiaries described in a will.

If a person dies without a will, they still leave an estate that requires administration. The key difference is that the property remaining after creditors have been satisfied will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession rather than the terms set forth in a will. In addition, the court will decide who should be named to administer the estate since no one has been nominated in a will.

Estate administration is governed by complex laws to ensure that debts are paid properly and that people who are supposed to inherit are not cheated out of their due. The laws require specific actions to be taken to notify potential creditors and prospective heirs. The administration of an estate also involves satisfying tax obligations.

The Probate Process

Many estates in Wheaton need to go through the probate process, although not all assets owned by the deceased person is necessarily a part of the estate.

Assets Not Subject to Probate

Properly owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, such as house owned by a married couple, passes directly to the remaining party. Assets with a beneficiary designation go straight to the beneficiary. Also, property held in a trust such as a revocable living trust would not be part of an estate.

Small Estates

Where the probate estate does not contain real property and is worth less than $100,000, estate administration in Wheaton will usually not require formal probate and may be managed by affidavit. When the heir wants to request access to an asset such as a bank account, they fill out an affidavit specifying that funeral expenses have been satisfied and that no probate proceeding will be held. If there is a will, a copy of that may be attached to the affidavit. An affidavit is a legal document, and false statements could subject the signer to perjury charges.

Formal Probate

If an estate in Wheaton must go through the full probate process, it is usually handled through the probate division of the DuPage County Circuit Court. Most people work with an attorney during the probate process to ensure that legal requirements are fulfilled. Paperwork must be drawn up and filed with the court to start proceedings. The court then appoints an executor, usually the person nominated in the will, and admits the will to probate.

While creditors and heirs are being notified, the executor needs to inventory and protect the assets of the estates. It may be necessary to liquidate assets to pay bills. The estate is considered a separate entity, so part of estate administration in Wheaton involves obtaining a tax ID number and reporting income earned by the estate during the administration period.

Help with Estate Administration in Wheaton

Even managing a small estate is a challenging proceeding, so many people find it helpful to start by consulting an estate lawyer. An experienced attorney could answer questions or take over many duties, including interactions with the court.

At the end of estate administration in Wheaton, the executor needs to close the estate, and an attorney could assist in that process as well. If a dispute arises concerning administration of a Wheaton estate, it is advisable to talk to a legal advisor as soon as possible to reduce the potential for negative consequences.