Estate administration refers to the process of settling all financial dealings of an individual who has died. Estate administration includes fulfilling debts, contacting next of kin, and distributing assets and property according to a will or state law.
Probate administration, or just probate, refers to a part of estate administration where an individual is formally appointed to administer a deceased individual’s estate. The probate process changes depending on whether or not the deceased person left a will behind.
If there is a will, it must be validated, potential beneficiaries must be identified, and the executor of the will must be notified. If there isn’t a will, then the probate process will instead involve identifying the beneficiaries declared by state law and appointing a legal administrator according to state law.
The short answer is yes. One of the responsibilities of an estate administrator is to settle all of the deceased’s outstanding debts. In order to accomplish this, the administrator may, with the court’s permission, sell assets in order to cover expenses or debts against the deceased.
There are two kinds of estate administrators: executors and court-appointed administrators. An executor is an administrator appointed by the will of the deceased. This person will usually be a trusted individual or a legally-bound third party. An executor will oversee the distribution of assets and settling of debts according to the will’s instruction. A court-appointed administrator is selected in the event that an individual dies without a will. A state administrator will settle the affairs of the deceased according to state law.