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Estate administration requires collecting assets, paying debts

When someone dies, the need arises to determine whether an estate must be filed and administered. Where the decedent has left a will and there are significant assets that he owned at death, the estate must be filed. The same applies if there is no will but there are more than negligible assets. In either event, estate administration is required in Nevada and all other states.

If there is a will, an executor will be named in it. This is the person who will file and probate the estate. With no will, a close relative will generally file a petition in the county courthouse for authority to probate the estate. That person is called an administrator. It's appropriate to refer to an executor or administrator generally as the personal representative of the estate.

The representative takes an oath of office at the appropriate county office. He or she promises to serve faithfully and carry out the duties according to law. The representative then files an initial petition to probate the estate, which contains basic preliminary information. The representative will then have a set number of days to file a basic estate inventory, which will list the assets being administered.

The duties of the representative include identifying and collecting all assets. The representative then uses the funds to pay all outstanding debts owed at death. Other assets such as real estate must be sold or professionally appraised for an accurate value. If the real estate is specifically bequeathed to a family member or friend in the will, then the property is not sold but an appraisal is still required.

At the end of the estate administration process, a final accounting and report is filed which informs the court and the heirs of the details of all transactions conducted by the personal representative. The balance of funds after payment of all debts and administrative expenses is divided among the heirs listed in the will or as provided in the intestate laws of Nevada. The heirs will sign a release of all claims, which serves to recognize their approval of the distribution and release of the representative from future liability.

Source: The Journal, Steps to estate administration, Deborah Miller, Jan. 5, 2014

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