Frequently Asked Questions

Clients often wonder about various aspects of the work we do for them — here are some of the questions that we hear regularly.


Our office — pictured above — is located just over a mile from the center of both Norwich, Vt., and Hanover, N.H., and offers plenty of immediately adjacent parking.

About Estate Planning  |  About Estate Administration  |  About Real Estate

About Estate Administration

What is probate?
  • “Probate” has two parts — the probate of a will and the administration of an estate.
  • “Probate” is the court process by which a will is proven to be valid.
  • “Administration” is the process of gathering the estate’s assets, paying the estate’s debts, and then distributing the property to the beneficiaries or heirs, all under the supervision of the probate court.
What kind of property goes through probate?
  • Generally, any property that is solely in the decedent’s name has to go through probate in order to be passed to beneficiaries under a will or to heirs under state law. If any asset has a payable-on-death provision, has a named beneficiary, or is held in trust, this property may not have to go through probate.
What does an executor or estate administrator do?
  • An executor is a fiduciary appointed in a will to be the personal representative of an estate. An administrator is a fiduciary appointed by the probate court rather than by will, either because there was no will, because an executor was not appointed in the will, or because a previously appointed executor is no longer able to serve.
  • The fiduciary of an estate hires the specialists needed to help probate an estate, such as a lawyer and an accountant.
What are the costs of estate administration?
  • The costs of administration typically include court and filing fees, administrative costs, accounting fees, and lawyers’ fees.
  • All courts have filing and processing fees.
  • Administrative costs include fees for appraisals, bonds, and notices.
  • Tax returns have to be prepared for the estate, and they are typically done by accountants.
  • We charge for our services by the hour, with different rates for lawyers and paraprofessionals. Lawyers’ fees are typically more reasonable in Vermont and New Hampshire than they are in neighboring states. Contact us to learn more about our fees.
  • All of these costs must be approved by the probate court.