"Estate administration" refers to the process which must be followed when the estate of a person who has recently died is being distributed, either according to his or her wishes as laid out in a will, or the laws governing the distribution of the assets of a person who dies without a will.
If the decedent wrote a will before his or her death in Westminster, Maryland, the process will be carried out according to the directives contained in the will, assuming they are valid and enforceable.
Usually, wills appoint an executor who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate, and seeing that its provisions are carried out, to the extent possible.
The person named as executor of an estate usually has some work ahead of them. To ensure that they actually follow through on their obligations, most people name as executor the person who will get the most money, or other benefit, if the will is given effect as written. Because an estate can't be distributed until the administration process is complete, the executor has an incentive to see it through.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in Westminster, Maryland does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will appoint 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"), Maryland has a system of laws distributing the decedent's property to his or her closest living relative. In such a situation, 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 stake in the decedent's estate (either because they're named in the will or stand to inherit by intestacy) can petition a Westminster, Maryland court to be appointed executor.
Whoever ends up as the executor, it is their responsibility to serve as the personal representative of the estate. They will be responsible for taking account of all of the decedent's assets and debts, as well as notifying beneficiaries who may be estranged from the decedent, among other things.
Can a Westminster, Maryland Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you have unexpectedly been appointed to be the executor of a relative's estate, and don't know how to handle this process, you should speak with a good Westminster, Maryland wills and trusts attorney.