When your parents asked you to serve as their executor, you may have immediately accepted out of a sense of obligation. However, now that they are older, you may have concerns about those obligations.
It can take a lot of time to handle your parents’ affairs when they pass. What are the responsibilities involved in estate administration?
You have to secure their property and settle accounts
You may not have to worry much about estate administration if one of your parents dies before the other. Only their separate property will have to get distributed to family members and only their separate accounts require settlement while their spouse remains alive. After both of your parents have died, however, you will have to distribute all of their property after settling all of their accounts.
You will need to collect their financial paperwork, review their last will or estate plan, and reach out to the probate courts. If all of their property is worth less than a certain amount you may be able to handle the estate on your own. Otherwise, the probate courts will likely oversee the administration of the estate.
You have an obligation to settle debts, close accounts and file taxes
Before you start passing out property to your siblings and other family members, you first have to handle all of your parents’ outstanding obligations. Executors have to close accounts or transfer them into someone else’s name. You may have to deal with utility companies and multiple different financial institutions, likely providing them with death records.
From there, you will have to pay off creditors with the resources left behind by your parents and file taxes on their behalf. If the estate has enough property in it, you may also have to file tax reports for the estate. Handling those debts is incredibly important because you could be responsible for unpaid debts and taxes if you hand out property to others without fulfilling those responsibilities first.
Getting help with estate administration can reduce the likelihood of making oversights or mistakes that come back to haunt you. Typically, the estate itself will pay for the attorney helping the executor manage the probate process. Getting the support you need and educating yourself about your responsibilities will make estate administration easier when the time comes.