When someone dies with a will, the estate is probated according to her or his wishes. The person in charge of probating the estate is called the executor. The executor will apply for Letters Testamentary from the Surrogate’s Court.
If a person does not have a valid will when she or he dies, the estate goes through an Administration proceeding. The person in charge of that is called an Administrator. (The person who died is called the decedent.) The Administrator applies for Letters of Administration.
Both processes involve roughly the same steps:
- figuring out and gathering together all of the assets of the decedent;
- paying the bills of the estate (including funeral costs, taxes and other debts);
- locating and giving notice to anyone who is mentioned in the will (if there is one) and anyone who would inherit if there is no valid will;
- reporting to the beneficiaries how the assets will be distributed;
- and distributing the remaining property to them.
If you have been named the executor or administrator of someone’s estate, we can help you through the probate or administration process.