All About The Attorneys Daily

What Is The Difference Between Probate & Estate Administration?

Oct 25

Probate & Estate Administration Are Two Terms That Are Used Interchangeably

At the time of their death, the majority of people have some assets or are in debt. The assets and obligations of a person who has died and left behind a "estate." Each state has its own set of regulations that control what happens to the estate and how the deceased's estate plan - or lack thereof - is handled. The state's probate court system oversees the process of liquidating an estate. So, unlike estate planning attorneys, who strive to put a plan in place before death, lawyers who work with probate laws and estate administration focus on what occurs after someone dies.

Terms To Be Aware Of

  • Estate taxes are levied by the government when a property is transferred after a person's death.
  • Executor: The person in charge of ensuring that the estate is distributed according to the intentions of the dead.
  • Administrator: The person in charge of settling a deceased individual's estate if he or she died without leaving a will.
  • The legal term for the individual who wrote a will is a testator.
  • Intestate: A person who died without leaving a will is said to have died intestate.

See FindLaw's estate planning glossary for more terminology related to estate planning and administration.

Notes About The Practice Area

Because estate planning and estate administration are so closely intertwined, many estate planning professionals also handle estate administration. Estate planning lawyers must understand how their tactics will affect estate administration, and estate administration lawyers must be familiar with all of the different estate planning techniques.

Estate planning attorneys, on the other hand, typically charge a flat fee that varies depending on the amount and complexity of their clients' assets and families. After taxes are deducted, estate administration attorneys typically charge a portion of the estate.

On our probate and estate administration legal answers page, you can learn more about state-specific laws.

Practice Areas That Are Related

  • Estate planning attorneys draft wills and trusts to ensure that the testator's assets are dispersed effectively after death.
  • Estates are substantially taxed under the law. The process of estate planning requires a detailed understanding of tax law.
  • Elder Law: As testators get older, their estate planning and administration demands vary. An elder law attorney is familiar with the impact of changing life circumstances on inheritance arrangements.
  • Real estate is one of the most valuable assets that decedents leave behind. To make the move as seamless as possible, real estate attorneys may be required.
  • To determine which family members should inherit, estate administration attorneys must examine previous marriage certificates, divorce judgments, and support orders.