Estate administration, in basic terms, is the procedure of maintenance and distribution of a person's assets after they die.
If the decedent wrote a will before his or her death in New Castle County, Delaware, the process will be carried out according to the directives included in the will, assuming they are legitimate and enforceable.
The decedent usually names in the will an executor of his or her estate. The executor is the person whose job it is to take the lead role in the administration of an estate.
The executor generally has at least some work cut out for them. This obviously raises the issue of compensation. The easiest way to guarantee that the executor does his or her job is simply to appoint the person who has the most to gain from the will. That way, they cannot inherit until the process is finalized.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in New Castle County, Delaware does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will assign a person to act as estate administrator.
This is typically the person who will benefit the most if the will is executed. If there is no will (a situation known as "intestacy"), Delaware has a system of laws distributing the decedent's property to his or her closest living relative. In such a case, the closest living relative has the most to gain from an orderly administration of the estate, so they will typically be appointed.
In cases where the will doesn't name an executor, or the person named is unable to take on that role for whatever reason, any person who has some direct share in the decedent's estate (either because they're named in the will or stand to inherit by intestacy) can petition a New Castle County, Delaware court to be assigned executor.
Once an executor is assigned (whether by being named in the will, or on the application of another person), they "step into the shoes" of the estate, and are expected to safeguard its interests to the fullest extent possible. They further are obligated to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify possible beneficiaries.
Can a New Castle County, Delaware Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you are the administrator of an estate, and are not a legal and/or financial professional, you might encounter legal or tax issues with which you are unfamiliar. A New Castle County, Delaware attorney would be very helpful in such a situation.