Estate Administration is the management of the decedent’s affairs, including securing of assets, determination of beneficiaries entitled to the assets, filing of appropriate income and estate tax returns, and the discharge of legal debts, funeral expenses, and costs of administration. Estate Administration involves the following division of assets and management:
- PROBATE. Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the decedent’s assets, paying taxes, claims and expenses and distributing assets to beneficiaries. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes.
The Court admits the decedent’s Last Will & Testament to probate and appoints a personal representative(s) who is the primary person(s) responsible for marshalling assets in the decedent’s name and paying the decedent’s just debts.
- REVOCABLE TRUST. The decedent may have created a Trust that holds most if not all of the decedent’s financial assets. Usually the Personal Representative is also the Trustee of the Trust. The Trust is generally responsible to the Personal Representative for the payment of the decedent’s debts and costs of administration.
- JOINT ASSETS, LIFE INSURANCE, AND PENSION ACCOUNTS. The Personal Representative assists the legal beneficiaries in the procurement of said assets and obtains that part, if any, that is subject to the decedent’s bills, expenses, and statutory claims; such as securing the spouse’s rights.
- CONSTITUTIONALLY EXEMPT PROPERTY. The Personal Representative provides to the Court evidence establishing Homestead Real Estate Exemption, Exempt Personal Property, and other procedures that exempt special assets from the decedent’s unsecured debts and estate administration.