DC Estate Administration Process

In DC, estate administration is the process of administering a decedent’s estate. That means that when a person dies, their assets and debts are referred to as their estate, and many times there are loose ends that have to be tied up. The DC estate administration process involves wrapping up a person’s affairs after they die, and that could include paying off debts, marshaling their assets, ensuring that any income and estate tax returns required are filed and, if assets are left over after debts have been paid, distributing them to the proper beneficiaries. Speaking with estate planning attorney could be beneficial during this transitional period.

What is the Estate Administration Process?

The first proceeding involved in administering an estate is opening the estate at the DC Superior Court. The DC estate administration process involves filing pleadings and reporting to the court an estimate of assets, debts, and funeral expenses, and giving the court a list of interested persons in the estate.

There are several different methods of opening a probate estate, including, supervised or unsupervised, small or large, and standard or abbreviated.  The type of probate proceeding initiated depends on the facts of the case and the probate assets.

Defining Tangible Personal Property

Tangible personal property is any property that can be handled or touched, such as cars, clothing, furniture, household appliances, jewelry, or artwork. Intangible property would be bank accounts, securities, stocks, and bonds, and assets of that nature.

What is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed property is property that is in the name of a person, but it has not been distributed or claimed by its rightful owner. Many times, that is in a situation in which a person has moved, and a refund check was issued from a utility such as an electric company, a water company, or a television company, but was not received and therefore never cashed. After a certain amount of time, the funds go to unclaimed property.

In the case of a decedent, unclaimed property can be that type of property or other things, such as bank accounts that were never closed because an estate was never opened. It could be that after a person’s death, the account sat at the financial institution with no one taking action to close the account. That account would go to unclaimed property. In many instances, to apply to receive unclaimed property, the decedent’s estate must be opened or reopened.

What is the Role of an Attorney?

If a law firm is hired, it usually will assist the Personal Representative in making the administration as easy and seamless as possible. That requires a lot of assisting to ensure that required filings with the court are made on time and that debts that have to be paid are enforceable and paid in a timely manner, and that the distribution of the estate is done properly and according to the law.

How an Estate Planning Attorney Could Help

An estate administration lawyer can be of assistance to a Personal Representative in administering an estate in DC because the lawyer will have the experience, background, and understanding required to administer it. Once a Personal Representative is appointed, the attorney can walk them through the entire DC estate administration process and give as much assistance as necessary or wanted.

That can include everything such as marshaling the assets, preparing the filings such as an inventory or an accounting that are required, and more if the representative prefers. If the representative prefers to do those tasks, the lawyer can be there to guide them along the way, being on call for any questions when problems arise.

Either way, it is beneficial to the representative because, depending on their comfort level in administering the estate, the lawyer can tailor their assistance to what the representative needs.