After someone dies, someone (called the deceased person's 'Executor' or 'Administrator') must deal with their money and property (known as the 'estate'). They
need to pay the deceased person's taxes and debts, and distribute their money and property to the people entitled to it.
If the deceased person left a valid will, the person who deals with the estate is called the deceased person's 'executor'. If the deceased person left an invalid will or no will at all, the person who deals with the deceased person's estate is called an 'administrator'.
If a person dies intestate (without a Will) there will be no named executors to carry out the wishes of the Will. Somebody else will therefore have to take responsibility and in order to do so legally they will have to obtain ‘letters of administration’.
It is usual for one of the beneficiaries to become the Administrator for the estate of the deceased and supported by an appointed Solicitor.
Most of the time the Administrator relies on the help and advice of a qualified Solicitor to help them through this process that may or may not be complicated, How
complicated the estate is to administer depends on many factors e.g.,
Is there a non-blood relative claiming?
Is property involved?
Are there other beneficiaries to be located?
Are there Adoption issues?
to name just a few.
There is also consideration of who gets what, which is decided by Intestate Laws (see Estate Distribution).