Not all assets a person owns at the time of their death are required to go through the estate administration process - only assets whose ownership doesn't automatically transfer upon their death.
Some instances where the ownership of assets transfers automatically upon the death of the owner, thereby avoiding being subject to probate, include: 1) assets that are jointly owned, 2) financial accounts with beneficiary designations, 3) vehicles subject to transfer on death designations, and 4) real estate subject to beneficiary deeds.
Another popular way of avoiding assets being subject to estate administration is by using trusts. A trust is a legal arrangement where assets are held and managed by a "trustee" for the benefit of "beneficiaries." Both the trustee and the beneficiaries are chosen by the creator of the trust, known as the "trustor."
The time to administer an estate depends on several factors, including the number, type, and value of assets involved; the level of cooperation among the deceased person's heirs and beneficiaries; whether court supervision is required; and whether the estate has valid claims against others or others make claims against the estate, among other things.
Generally, the estate administration process takes longer than one year to complete. However, if the value of an estate is below a certain dollar amount, and other specific conditions are met, special procedures can allow for the distribution of an estate's assets in half the time.
Just like determining the timeline for estate administration, the cost to administer an estate can vary based on several factors, including the number, type, and value of assets involved; the number of heirs and beneficiaries, whether their locations are known, and whether any disputes arise between them; whether the court allows independent administration; and whether valid estate claims need to be pursued or whether claims against the estate must be defended against, among other things.
Generally, the cost to administer an estate worth $100,000 or less will total a few thousand dollars. The cost to administer more valuable and complicated estates normally ends up totaling between 2% and 5% of the estate's net value. If there is litigation involved in administering an estate, costs can increase substantially.
At Wayfinder Law, you will receive an upfront and clear quote before we enter any legal services agreement. The fee can be fixed (a set, flat-rate fee), hourly based, or, in rare circumstances, contingent upon the amount recovered through a claim made on behalf of the estate.
At Wayfinder Law, our job is to help you through the process of settling a loved one's affairs and their estate. We will provide you with the compassion, information, guidance, and help you need to get you through the process in an organized, efficient, and timely manner.
We understand the sorrow you face when a loved one dies - we've been there. Mourning a loved one's death is emotionally and often physically draining. Having to face the unknown, complex, and confusing tasks involved with putting their final personal and financial affairs in order only adds misery to an already terrible situation.