Losing a loved one is never easy, but if your friend or family member has entrusted you to be the administrator of his or her estate you will be responsible for managing several things to ensure that the probate process goes smoothly. Most people are not familiar with the probate process and the responsibilities involved with being an administrator of an estate, so it is highly recommended that your hire an estate administration attorney to assist you and ensure that everything is done properly. As an appointed estate administrator, you will be responsible for the following:
Go through Probate
Probate is a legal process in which a will is examined by the court system to ensure that it is legal and valid. As the administrator of an estate, you will be responsible for initiating the probate process and providing any documentation that may be required. During the probate process it is also a good idea to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in writing to inform the organization that you are the administrator of said estate. This will allow you to settle any taxes that may be owed by your deceased loved one.
Pay Off Debts
It is not uncommon for a person to die with debts, and the administrator of the estate must use assets from the estate to pay off those debts. Before making any payments, it is important to ensure that the debts are valid and actually owed.
Manage the Estate
In the weeks and months after the death of your loved one, you may have to manage real estate holdings, run or liquidate a business owned by the deceased, or take care of financial portfolios. Taking charge of these functions can be difficult if you do not have experience, so it is a good idea to consult an attorney, accountant, or financial planner to ensure that the decisions you make are in the best interest of the estate.
Distribution of Assets
If you are the administrator of an estate, you will be responsible for distributing the assets according to the terms of your loved one's will. This can be a complex legal matter, especially if the estate is large. Distribution of assets typically does not occur until probate is completed and all debts of the estate are paid. If you are the administrator of a large estate, an estate administration attorney working on your behalf is essential to ensure that all assets are distributed properly.