Alabama Estate Administration
Estate administration refers to taking the steps necessary to move through the probate process. This step begins when the Alabama probate attorney has opened the estate with the probate court. Estate administration involves three broad categories of activities: (1) collecting and managing the assets of the estate, (2) paying obligations of the estate, and (3) distributing what’s left to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Estate Administration: Collecting the Assets
Unless there is a valid Last Will and Testament that provides otherwise, a personal representative has both the right and the responsibility to collect the assets of the Alabama probate estate and take control of the decedent’s property. The personal representative may, however, give real estate or tangible personal property to person entitled to the property until the personal representative determines that it is needed for estate administration purposes.
Estate Administration: Inventory
An inventory is a detailed listing of property owned by the decedent at the time of death. It includes the fair market value of each asset on the date of death and the amount of any debts associated with the asset.
In Alabama, the personal representative must file an inventory within two months of appointment as personal representative. The personal representative must also send a copy of the inventory to any interested person who requests it.
Sometimes an Alabama Last Will and Testament will waive the requirement that a personal representative file an inventory. Courts will typically recognize such a waiver and not require an inventory unless the court decides that it is necessary to protect the assets. But even if the court does not require a formal inventory, an informal inventory is usually necessary to give the probate attorney and the personal representative the information needed to oversee and distribute the assets.
Estate Administration: Disposing of Creditors’ Claims
Each Alabama personal representative is responsible for notifying the decedent’s creditors. The notice must state the name of the decedent, the date on which letters were granted, and the identity of the court that granted the letters. The notice must advise all persons having claims against the decedent to present the same within the time allowed by law or that the same will be barred.
Known creditors are treated differently than unknown creditors. Known creditors (those that the personal representative is aware of or could easily identify) are given personal notice as soon as possible after their identity is known. The notice must be sent by first-class mail addressed to the creditors’ last known addresses or by other means that will provide actual notice to such creditors. Known creditors must be notified within six months from the date that the personal representative is appointed (and much sooner if possible).
So how does a personal representative notify unknown creditors? This is handled by publication. A notice to unknown creditors is published once a week for three successive weeks in a local newspaper in the county where the letters were granted. If no newspaper is published in the county, the notice should be published in the newspaper published nearest to the county courthouse or in an adjoining county.
All claims must be filed within six months of the date that letters testamentary or letters of administration are granted, as long as each known person who may have a claim against the estate is given at least 30 days personal notice. Creditors file claims by submitting an affidavit to the Alabama probate court for filing as a lien against the estate. Any claims (other than contingent claims) that are not submitted within the six-month window are time barred. However, failure to submit a claim does not prevent a secured creditor (such as a bank with a mortgage on a home) from exercising its rights.
Claims are paid from estate assets (other than assets that qualify for homestead exemption or family allowance). The debts of the probate estate are grouped in to preference categories and paid in order, with lower-tier categories to be paid only when the higher-tier categories have been paid in full. The categories of priorities are as follows:
- Funeral expenses;
- Fees and charges of estate administration;
- Expenses of last illness (such as medical bills);
- Taxes assessed on the estate of the decedent prior to his death;
- Debts to employee’s for services rendered in the year the decedent died; and
- All other debts.
The Final Step in Alabama Probate: Closing the Estate
Once the personal representative has taken all actions necessary for estate administration, the attorney can proceed with closing the estate.
SOURCE: SOURCE: REMMOMT.COM