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Estate Administration

Plan for Your Future.

Estate Administration can be daunting, confusing and time consuming, especially for someone without knowledge or experience of the process or the law. We’re here to clarify and simplify the process.

Our Estate Administration Services

At McCarthy & Akers PLC, we assist with the administration of estates of all sizes, and offer advice to clients who are executors to help streamline the process and save the estate money and time. 

Our Approach to Estate Administration

Our approach is direct and efficient. We make the process as simple as possible by using our many years of experience to avoid the missteps and mistakes that many first-time executors can make with estate administration. Knowing the ins and outs of the process saves our clients both time and money.

We also handle many estates in their entirety, acting as the personal representative of the estate from beginning to end so that no family members need to carry the burden of administering an estate after the passing of a loved one.

How We're Different

We deliver all the resources you need under one roof.

We have handled thousands of estates over the last two decades. There are few firms that have the breadth of knowledge and experience that our firm puts to work for our clients.

Because of our experience, we offer a “one-stop shop” for real estate law, corporate matters and litigation support. Many other firms do not have all of these resources under one roof.

What is estate administration?

When a loved one dies, someone must be in charge of managing their estate—a person generally designated as the executor. Estate Administration is the process by which the executor must collect property and assets, inventory them, assess their value, pay debts and taxes, and distribute any remaining property to the heirs and beneficiaries.

To put it another way, estate administration is the process by which the estate is collected and managed after someone passes away. It includes payment of debts and taxes, and distribution of any remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Administration

Estate Planning (Start Here):

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Glossary of Estate Planning Terms

  • Beneficiary: The person or entity who receives property in accordance with a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement account, or other third-party beneficiary contract.
  • Estate Tax: A tax on the transfer of property after death. This is levied by the state and/or federal government. An estate has the obligation to pay estate tax.
  • Marital Deduction: An unlimited gift tax deduction or estate tax deduction. This type of tax law allows an individual to give assets to his or her spouse with reduced or no tax imposed upon the transfer.
  • Power of Appointment: The power granted to a person allowing him or her to dispose or designate who is to receive certain property under the will.
  • Probate: The judicial process which determines the validity of a will in a court of law and the martialing and distribution of the deceased’s estate.
  • Trustee: The individual or entity that acts as the legal owner of the trust assets. They are responsible for handling any of the assets held in trust, tax filings, and distribution of the assets according to the instructions of the trust.
  • Will: A legal document that identifies where your assets should be distributed after your death. This also gives you the ability to nominate guardians for dependent children. Without a will, the courts determine what happens to your assets and decides the legal responsibility for your kids.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a process involving planning for the transfer of an individual’s property after death. It involves the counsel of professional advisors, who are familiar with your desires and concerns, your assets, and family structure.

It may involve a will and / or trust and the services of a variety of professionals: your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, life insurance advisor, banker, and broker.

What is my "estate"?

An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time, alive or dead. Once an individual has passed away, it consists of all property owned at death before it is distributed by a will, trust, or intestacy laws (the laws of descent and distribution). This is the sum of a person’s assets; legal rights, interests and entitlements.

An estate may contain real property (real estate, houses, or investment properties) or personal property (bank accounts, securities, jewelry and automobiles, etc.).

What is the lawyer's role?

A lawyer’s role in estate planning involves advising clients as to the options available and recommendations to accomplish clients’ objectives and assisting clients with drafting and implementing legal documents, including trusts and wills.

While lawyers are not required in order to plan your estate, it may be best to work with an attorney in ensure that your wishes are carried out. This is especially true if your estate is large, complex, or contains unusual assets.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning

Whether or not you need an estate planning lawyer to help depends on the extent and complexity of your assets and intentions regarding administration of your estate.

While it may be possible for individuals to draft some estate planning documents on their own, it is important to consult with legal professionals to ensure that your estate is administered as you would wish.

Probate:

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What is probate?

Probate is the judicial process which determines the validity of a will in a court of law and administers the distribution of the estate.

Should I avoid probate?

Since it is the court-supervised process of carrying out your will, the three main reasons to avoid probate are the time and money it can take to complete and the public nature of the process. Along with the various proceedings and hearings, gathering assets and paying off the debts to an estate can take months, or potentially years.

What is probate property vs non-probate property?

Probate is the judicial process through which a court determines how to distribute your property upon your death. Some of these assets are distributed to heirs by the court according to your will (or the laws of intestacy if you don’t have a will).

In comparison, non-probate assets bypass the court process and go directly to your beneficiaries based upon the form of title or a beneficiary designation. They don’t require a probate court order to pass the title.

Power of Attorney:

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What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a written authorization to represent someone as their agent. This gives them the ability to act on their behalf in private affairs, business, or on other legal matters. The power may be given temporarily or permanently and may take effect immediately or upon the occurrence of a future event or your inability to make decisions, due to mental or physical disability.

Will my Power of Attorney expire?

Once the power of attorney is invoked, it usually is irrevocable unless the principal regains their capacity to make decisions for themselves or passes away.

You should periodically meet with your lawyer to revisit your power of attorney and whether your choice of agent still meets your needs. In addition, some financial institutions require updated powers of attorney in order to be honored.

Who should be your agent?

Your power of attorney will be the one handling your legal and financial affairs, so most people choose a spouse, child, or family member to act on their behalf. You may wish to appoint someone with experience in these fields or with the financial savvy to handle these types of decisions.

What if I move?

A power of attorney remains valid even if you change your state of residence. Although it’s not necessary to update your power of attorney when you move, it may be a good opportunity to update your overall estate plan and nuances of the new state law are addressed.
McCarthy & Akers

Office Hours
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-6:00pm
Saturday, By Appointment

Shenandoah Valley

Front Royal

135 B N. Royal Ave.
Front Royal, Va 22630

Strasburg

145 E. King Street
Strasburg, Va 22657

Winchester

302 W. Boscawen St.,
Winchester, Va 22601

Woodstock

109 N. Main St, Suite 201
Woodstock, VA 22664
(Look for 106 Lawyers Row)

Northern Virginia

Manassas

10432 Balls Ford Rd., Ste 300,
Manassas, VA 20109

Warrenton

25 S. 4th St., Suite 102,
Warrenton, Va 20186