Administering an estate is a substantial responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Incorrect estate administration could result in a lawsuit or the administrator being held in contempt of court.
Estate administration is often a complex process, requiring the completion of many procedures within a required time frame; this complexity is frequently compounded by the personal loss from a decedent’s passing. Despite such difficulties, the administrator has a fiduciary duty to administer the estate competently, accurately, and fairly. While our staff will gladly assist you in answering procedural questions related to the estate administration process, the Clerk’s Office is expressly forbidden by law to offer legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek competent legal counsel to assist you.
To administer a decedent’s estate, you will need to bring the following items and information to the Estates Division:
- The original Will (if any), a death certificate, and details of the decedent’s assets, including real estate, personal property with titles, loans, and bank account numbers and amounts of sole and joint accounts. Value all assets at the fair market value at the time of death
- Names of beneficiaries under a Will or next of kin. List their relationship to the deceased and their addresses
- Copies of the signature cards for accounts
- Stock information, including the number of shares, names on stock certificates, and the value at the time of death of sole and joint accounts
- Vehicle values and the names listed on the certificate of title
- Real estate values and the names listed on any deeds
- Any gifts of property the deceased may have made within the three (3) years preceding his/her death
- Any potential claim for wrongful death
- All other assets the deceased may have held, including accounts payable on death to a beneficiary
After a person dies, upon application by an executor named in a Will or a family member, the Estates Division will appoint a Personal Representative to be in charge of administration of the estate. The Personal Representative must take an Oath of office and may have to post a bond to protect the estate assets from fraud or improper administration. Additionally, the Personal Representative must file annual accountings, showing all personal property received by the estate and all property distributed by the estate. These accountings are carefully audited by the Estates Division. Receipts, cancelled checks, bank statements and payment vouchers must be submitted to the Estates Division for auditing.