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You need to understand what an administrator is. Here’s what to know.

What is an administrator?

 An administrator is someone appointed by the probate court to handle the distribution of the estate of a person who has died without a will, or with a will that fails to name a person who performs this task.

Deeper definition

When a person dies, someone must determine what is to be done with his or her estate. Typically, an administrator must be appointed to manage the person’s estate and settle his or her affairs.

An administrator can be a person who is appointed to serve in this capacity in the will of the deceased person. The administrator is compensated through instructions in the will.

If the deceased person fails to name an administrator in the will, a person can apply to be named the administrator. Priority is given to family members or relatives. If no private parties apply, the court typically assigns a public administrator.

Administrators have many important duties. These include ensuring that all of the deceased’s assets are distributed in accordance with the terms specified in the will and defending the estate against any pending lawsuits, typically paying a lawyer’s fee out of the assets in the estate.

Administrator example

Dorothy owns a substantial estate. She decided to set up a will a few years ago for the benefit of her two children. In her will, she appointed Jenny, her sister, to be the administrator of her estate. Ten years later, Dorothy died of cancer, leaving her estate under the administration of Jenny.

Assuming she agreed to be the administrator, Jenny must distribute the estate to Dorothy’s beneficiaries in accordance with the terms specified in Dorothy’s last will. If Jenny doesn’t know how to properly administer an estate, she can hire a lawyer or financial adviser.

She must begin a search for Dorothy’s assets, debts, and heirs or beneficiaries. Once she has located Dorothy’s assets, Jenny can liquidate them to compensate creditors.

After all liabilities are paid, which includes court fees, payment for any consulting professionals and her own compensation as administrator, she can distribute the remaining assets to the Dorothy’s beneficiaries.

Settling an estate when a loved one dies can be very complicated. Learn the first steps to take and other loose ends to tie up.

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