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The challenge of intestacy: estate administration


Dying intestate can create complications for a person's estate and heirs. Without clear instructions on how a person's assets are to be divided among the beneficiaries, state law takes over. And the state will not necessarily do what the decedent wished or what the heirs expect. A will is needed to ensure that the decedent's wishes are fulfilled.

Yet only about 40 percent of American adults have a will. Wills are binding upon a person's death. Because the provisions of the will have been aligned with the wishes of the testator, there are fewer gray areas about the transfer of assets. Estate administration becomes much easier with a will.

An important step in making a will is naming an executor. If a person dies intestate, an administrator has to come forward or be assigned by the court in order to start the probate process. Without a will in hand, the administrator will likely find managing the estate to be overwhelming. Probate can therefore be lengthy, complicated and stressful because the heirs may contest how the assets are being managed.

Like an executor, the administrator has to identify, assess and gather all the decedent's properties and pay the inheritance taxes and debts attached to the estate. Only after completing these tasks can the administrator distribute the estate among the heirs.

Estate administration can be both rewarding and challenging, consume a lot of time and effort and cause headaches without the help of a professional. Fortunately, estate planners are available in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and around the country, to help a person untangle a messy estate.

Source: The Washington Informer, "Your Will: The Overlooked 'Bucket List' Item," Oct. 28, 2013

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