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Things to know about small estate administration

When a person passes on, his or her estate must be managed and distributed in the appropriate manner. There are many aspects of the estate administration process, starting with the gathering of assets, which leads into paying any debt, and finally the distribution of remaining assets.

While some people leave a large estate behind, this is not the case across the board. Instead, many people only leave a few assets to their heirs. Of course, this doesn't make the administration process any less important.

In the event that the decedent owned only a few assets, there is a good possibility of avoiding probate. This is particularly true if the person had a comprehensive estate plan in place.

Note: according to FindLaw, many states have a "small estate administration" stipulation in place. FindLaw notes the following:

"Usually, in order to qualify for a small estate administration, the decedent's assets must not include real estate and must be worth less than a threshold amount determined by the state."

Even if a small estate administration proceeding is possible, creditors still have the right to be paid before the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs.

It doesn't matter if you are going through the estate planning process yourself or attempting to sort things out after a loved one has passed on, it is important to understand the finer details of the law.

When a person leaves a small amount of assets behind, his or her estate may be treated in a different manner. Knowing what to expect can make this time of your life less stressful.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Administer an Estate" accessed Mar. 16, 2015

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