How to Administer an Estate without Causing Conflict
If you’ve been asked to administer the estate for one or both of your deceased parents, you’re probably a little nervous. After all, Hollywood has painted the situation as one swimming in hostility and jealousy. You’re already upset because you’ve lost your parents, and you don’t want to make the situation worse by upsetting your family members and friends when you administer the will.
As long as you’re fair and you follow the will to the letter, everything should run smoothly after you contact the beneficiaries. If you hire a lawyer to oversee the process (often your parents’ lawyer) it will run even more smoothly. The lawyer will keep everything fair and he or she can even draft written proof that you fulfilled your responsibilities.
Here’s what you can do to make sure the other beneficiaries stay satisfied:
1. Get at Least a Dozen Death Certificates
If you want to transfer checking accounts, savings accounts, safe deposit boxes, real estate or any other monetary assets, the beneficiaries will have to provide proof of death. Make sure you have enough death certificates to help everybody.
2. Obtain the Will and Read It Very Closely
Study the will so that you know where all of your parents’ assets need to go. You don’t want to make any mistakes that anyone will contest later. Make the process go as smoothly as possible by knowing the will backwards and forwards.
3. Locate and Inventory the Assets
You’ll have to search through your parents’ home, storage units, safe deposit boxes and other locations until you find all of their assets. You should make a checklist of all of them and write down which objects go to which beneficiaries. This will prevent confusion later on.
4. Get Titles for Cars and Real Estate
If your parents left their cars or home to their beneficiaries, you’ll need to find the titles to that property so you can pass them on. If you don’t have the titles, the beneficiaries might not like having to wait longer to get their inheritance.
5. Take Liabilities into Account
Before you give out any assets, you need to settle your parents’ debts, including the estate tax if necessary. Look for insurance, car registration, taxes, utilities, retirement funds, investment accounts, charitable contributions or safe deposit rentals that may have a continuing drain on their finance. Pay them, and then leave your parents’ checking account open just in case any other bills appear.
6. Notify Life Insurance Companies
If you want to collect on your parents’ life insurance policies, you’ll need to notify the insurance company. Once you have the money, you can distribute it as the will dictates.
Once you’ve settled liabilities and inventoried the assets, you can call the beneficiaries together and distribute their inheritance. They can’t protest if you’ve done your job to the letter.
You’re Not Done!
You will have many other responsibilities when you administer your parents’ estate. If you would like to learn more about your duties, call Donnell Law Group. Our lawyers know how to guide you through the intricacies of estate law. Get help today!