The legal services required in processing a person’s affairs after death is the area of law known as Estate Administration. This takes place once the fiduciary has been appointed.
Generally, the Estate Administration process can be divided into the following stages:
- Initial court proceeding: probating a Will in Surrogate Court, or if the person died without a Will (intestacy), filing a “administration” proceeding in the Surrogate Court;
- Nuts and bolts of estate administration: collection, inventory and valuation of assets, sale of decedent’s real estate and other assets, record keeping, raising cash requirements, payment of expenses, debts and legacies, filing of income tax returns, including fiduciary income tax returns, filing of Surrogate Court’s inventory;
- Estate Tax Returns. Preparation and filing of the Federal Estate Tax Return if necessary and preparation and filing of the New York State Estate Tax Return if necessary; post-mortem estate planning, including disclaimers, renunciations; selection of a tax year for the estate; timing of distributions, preparation and handling of any audits;
- Accounting and settlement. Preparation of the fiduciary’s Accounting- Judicial versus Non-Judicial Accountings; final distributions of estate assets and payment of commissions; finalizing all aspects of the estate.