An Estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time. Net worth is the sum of a person’s assets including legal rights, interests and entitlements of property of any kind, less all liabilities owed by the person. Assets that pass to somebody else by operation of law (for example, property held on a joint tenancy basis), do not form part of the deceased’s estate, even though the person had rights to that property during his or her lifetime. Also, if the deceased owned life insurance and nominated a beneficiary of the policy, the proceeds of that policy would not pass into the deceased’s estate, but would go directly to the nominated beneficiary.
The estate of the deceased person is administered by the executor (in the case of a will) or administrator (in the case of intestacy). The function of the executor and administrator is to protect the assets of the estate, pay out all expenses, determine the deceased’s liabilities and distribute the balance in accordance with the direction in the will, or as required by law.