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Estate Administration – I can do this myself, right?

Occasionally we get a phone call at our office asking if it is possible to administer an estate without the assistance of an attorney. Beyond the obvious humor of the question being posed to an attorney, this is an interesting question.

On one hand, it seems that it should not require specialized assistance to pass from this world to the next. What is more fundamental than being born or dying? On the other hand, life in our era is complex and complicated.

When I am presented with this question, my answer is “If you know everything I know; you can certainly administer the estate on your own.” But you don’t know everything I know about estate administration any more than I know everything about replacing my electric baseboard heaters…that’s why God made Electricians!

We can argue over whether it should be this complicated and require specialized knowledge of statues, tax regulations, look-backs, and so on. The fact is, however, that it is complicated and does require specialized knowledge.

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