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I’ve Been Named the Administrator of an Estate. What Now?

Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC Jan. 24, 2023

Losing a loved one is a tragedy that people experience all too often. If you’ve been appointed as administrator of an estate, you aren’t only left dealing with feelings of grief but also the stresses that accompany that kind of responsibility. These questions can create even more anxiety when thinking about the legal ramifications of the death, including funeral expenses, asset distribution, probate, and more; and these issues can be even more complex if your loved one died intestate. 

If you’re wondering what encompasses being an estate administrator, you shouldn’t have to face the legal aspects by yourself. At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, I am an estate planning attorney who understands the ins and outs of the law, and I can help guide you through the process while you focus on what’s most important. I serve those in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the greater Pittsburgh area, and the surrounding areas. Reach out today, and together, we can move forward.  

What Is Dying Intestate in Pennsylvania? 

Dying intestate means a person has died without leaving a registered will. As a result, the deceased person’s estate must go through a process called probate. In probate, the court supervises the ownership transfer process to the rightful heirs. 

During the probate process, the court appoints an administrator. The administrator is the person in charge of managing the estate until the official ownership process has taken place.  

So, the question is, who can serve as an administrator? 

In general, anyone can serve as an administrator. However, the court will name someone, such as the spouse or adult children of the deceased individual. The court may also consider a trusted estate planning attorney. 

What Is the Difference Between an Estate Administrator and Executor in Pennsylvania? 

An estate administrator and executor essentially occupy the same role. However, there is a clear difference between both roles. 

  • First, an estate administrator is a court-appointed individual when a person dies intestate.  

  • Second, an estate executor is the named administrator in a person’s will or trust. In other words, an executor is chosen to supervise a person’s estate as named in a will or trust.  

  • Third, the court accepts an executor’s designation unless there is a legal challenge.  

Please note that executors can be anyone an individual chooses. Executors can be family members, trusted friends, or estate administration professionals such as attorneys or accountants.  

Who Is Eligible to Become an Estate Administrator in Pennsylvania? 

Anyone can become an estate administrator unless there is a clear impediment. For instance, minor children, incarcerated individuals, or incapacitated individuals cannot become estate administrators. 

Family members may request the court to name an estate administration firm to handle the estate administration duties. Also, a court-appointed estate administrator can work with an estate administration firm to handle legal proceedings during probate. 

What Are the Duties of an Estate Administrator? 

An estate administrator is in charge of ensuring the proper management of the estate until the probate process concludes. Estate administrators are responsible for the following: 

  • Producing the estate’s financial statements 

  • Making an inventory of all assets 

  • Categorizing personal property (e.g., clothing, collectibles, furniture) 

  • Identifying creditors 

  • Contacting creditors to discuss debt repayment 

  • Appearing in court proceedings 

Please note that an estate administrator is not required to hire an estate administration attorney. However, it is highly recommended to do so. Professional legal counsel is always useful, especially when estate administrators lack experience. 

What Compensation Does an Estate Administrator Receive? 

Technically, an estate administrator does not receive financial compensation for their role. Unless the estate administrator is eligible to receive a portion from the estate itself, an estate administrator’s compensation must be negotiated with heirs and beneficiaries. 

Estate administration attorneys must also negotiate their compensation with family members. Fees vary from attorney to attorney. So, it is important to discuss compensation before formally hiring an estate administration attorney. 

Finding the Right Estate Administration Attorney in Pennsylvania 

At The Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, I strive to give you the compassionate but focused care that you deserve. I work with you, with the goal to help you find the best solution for your estate administration needs. Call today for detailed guidance, and with my support, you can have the law on your side as well as some of the burden being taken from your shoulders.