When a property owner dies, the process of winding up the affairs of the decedent is called estate administration. Someone will be appointed by the Probate Court to collect the decedent's assets, to pay his or her debts, taxes and administrative expenses, and to distribute what is left to those entitled to receive the property. If the decedent leaves a Will, the person who will perform this function is usually named in the Will and is called an "executor". In the case of a Will, the first step in the administration of the estate is a determination by the court that the Will is valid and the appointment of the executor. The judicial determination that the Will is the legal document by which the property will be disposed is called the "probate" of the Will. Probate is not concerned with the provisions of the Will, only whether the Will is valid. The probate of the Will takes place in the state where the decedent was domiciled at death regardless of where the Will was made.

If there is no Will, the first step is the appointment by the court of someone to administer the estate - the "administrator". The generic term for someone who administers an estate, whether with a Will or without a Will is the "personal representative."

Our attorneys and probate paralegals are experienced in providing estate administration work with the executor to identify and collect the decedent's assets, provide the court with an inventory of the assets and accountings of all the decedent's property, pay amounts owed and ultimately, close the estate and distribute the property in an orderly manner. A process that could be difficult can be made more manageable when there is a team of professionals who can assume the responsibility of winding up the decedent's estate with as little imposition on the survivors as possible.