An administrator is a person appointed by state Probate Court to Administer a deceased person's Estate when that person has died without having a valid Last Will and Testament, or if their will did not name an Executor.
Typically, a deceased person will name someone, known as the executor, to Settle their Estate by identifying them in their will.
However, if that person cannot do the job for whatever reason, or if the deceased did not have a valid will, then the state is responsible for identifying and appointing this person.
The roles of administrator and executor are similar, but the terms are used differently. In cases where the deceased left a valid will and named someone to do this work, the term "executor" is used instead of "administrator."
Their responsibilities are similar, but an executor manages an estate based on instructions outlined in a deceased person's will. Administrators have no will to rely on, so they are legally required to manage an estate based on state law, known as the laws of Intestate Succession.
Though these Probate laws vary by state, an administrator is always subject to court supervision and will likely need to obtain court approval for certain actions before they can distribute the deceased's Assets to Surviving Family, Heirs and other Beneficiaries.
Key responsibilities of an administrator during estate administration and probate include:
Applying for Administration: The administrator's first task is to apply to the appropriate court for legal authority to manage the estate. This process involves submitting a Petition for Letters of Administration and relevant documents to the court for review and approval.
Identifying Assets and Debts: The administrator must identify all the Assets and Debts of the deceased person's estate. This includes real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, debts, loans, and more.
Inventory and Appraisal: The administrator might need to prepare an Inventory and Appraisal of the estate's assets. This is important for assessing the estate's overall Fair Market Value and ensuring proper distribution.
Paying Debts and Taxes: The administrator is responsible for paying off the deceased person's debts, including outstanding bills, taxes, and other financial obligations. This is typically done using funds from the estate.
Distributing Assets: Once debts, taxes, and other obligations are settled, the administrator oversees the distribution of the remaining assets to the Heirs or other Beneficiaries according to the Laws of Intestacy.
Managing Estate Property: During the probate process, the administrator might need to manage and maintain estate property, such as real estate, until it is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.
Communicating with Heirs and Beneficiaries: The administrator communicates with the legal heirs and beneficiaries to keep them informed about the progress of the estate administration, including asset distribution and any challenges that may arise.
Filing Required Documents: The administrator is responsible for filing various legal documents with the court, including an accounting of the estate's financial transactions.
Resolving Disputes: If disputes or disagreements arise among heirs or beneficiaries, the administrator may play a role in helping to resolve these issues.