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Closing an Estate

Though you hear the term consistently, there is no such thing as Closing an Estate. Probate instructions never tell you how to “Close the Estate,” because it never actually happens. The term refers to the distribution of the estate’s final assets, which typically means that the Executor has run out of things to do.

Why Do Estates Never Close?

The executor is always the executor. For example, let’s say 20 years after the deceased’s death, the personal representative discovers a previously unknown bank account. The executor may have distributed all other assets 19 years before, but the executor still has the right to gather this new bank account. The executor still has this power because the estate never closed; it just ran out of things to do. The administrator’s power remains. But, the executor’s liability also remains.

The Executor’s Final Act, “Closing an Estate”

Because the executor is responsible forever, the administrator should receive a release of liability before distributing any funds. Without a release, a beneficiary could years later bring a Surcharge Action. The personal representative, now without any estate funds to pay his lawyer, must respond. Even if the charges are baseless, the executor is stuck paying the legal bill. Instead, before making any distribution, the administrator should insist on receiving a release. If beneficiaries refuse, the executor is free to file a Formal Accounting. If the judge approves the accounting, the executor is discharged.

With a release, the administrator can distribute the assets with confidence. With the distribution of all assets, the executor is said to have “closed the estate.” But, the executor still retains the power to gather newly discovered assets and address future complaints. The executor should not take the job lightly.

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If you have any questions about Closing an Estate or The Probate Process, feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation. For more than two decades Klenk Law has focused only on Estate Law. We’ve seen it all, and this experience allows us to explain complex estate law and Probate techniques clearly and concisely. We make it easy for you to understand The Probate Process so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

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Peter G.

Very knowledgeable! Peter Klenk always has a thorough answer, and the associates have more experience than you'll find at most firms. They really only do estate work.

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Brandon. L

Peter was excellent. He explained everything very clearly and is super friendly. My wife and I originally tried using a lawyer through group legal coverage, but unfortunately the old adage - "you get what you pay for" - applied to the other lawyer, and we decided to go with a real professional.

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Sharon S.

I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link for a question regarding a will. While I was expecting only a few minutes, it was a lengthy conversation. He made sure he understood the situation by asking many questions before offering advice. He then went through my options and results of each one. He left it up to me to decide if I wanted to proceed and did not push me toward one or another. His website has very useful information which I definitely researched before I called him. While I decided not to proceed at this time, I feel I had enough information to make that decision. I would not hesitate to hire him should I need to in the future.

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Christopher F.

Peter explained things in a way that was easy to understand. Everything was done in the time frame he said it. Could not have been better!

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