7 Tips for Managing a Loved One’s Estate
By: Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
When you lose a loved one, you may find yourself being thrust into the role of taking care of that loved one’s assets. They may have named you as an Executor or Trustee in a Will or Trust. Or, you may simply be the only person who is willing to take on the role of sorting out the debts, assets, and distributions for the family.
If you are the person tasked with the important job of Executor, you won’t have an easy time. You will need to locate and account for all of your loved one’s assets and debts. You will also need to make sure the remaining assets are distributed following your loved one’s wishes. If there is no estate planning documents in place, or just a Will, you will handle the Court process for re-titling the assets-called probate.
To help you in your job, we have 7 tips for managing a loved one’s estate.
1) Getting Started
If you are named as the Executor in the Will, you need to decide if you are willing to take on that role. You might want to consider finding a neutral, third-party if your loved one has very complicated assets, your family is at war with each other, or you do not feel that you can handle the role.
If you do decide to become Executor, keep in mind that the work is time-consuming. In Oklahoma, you can be compensated for your time and work, but the payoff is pretty minimal. For that reason, most people who choose to serve as Executor are also heirs of the deceased.
As Executor, you will need to be organized. Keep records of any bills you receive for the deceased and any assets you find. If you have an attorney, be sure to share all of this information with them.
2) Get Several Copies of Death Certificates
As Executor, you will be responsible for calling banks, utility providers, and other organizations to let them know your loved one has died. Many of these places will request Death Certificates. So, be sure you have a few on hand, and always ask the companies to make a copy for their records so you can keep your certified copies.
3) Spouses Need Updated Documents
If the deceased left a surviving spouse, be sure to recommend to them that they get their estate planning documents updated. Couples often plan their estates together. So, if one passes away, the other will need to change their documents and beneficiaries to reflect the death.
4) Selling Property
Often, the heirs will want to sell the home of the deceased. If you are the Executor, this may fall on your shoulders. If the heirs want the home sold in probate, you will need to get all heirs to consent, or follow the sell process in the probate. IA good attorney can help you decide the best strategy for selling property in a probate.
5) Changing Title for Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship
If the deceased’s home was owned with another person as joint tenant with right of survivorship, the home will pass to the other owner. In order to transfer the title of the home, you will need to file an Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant in the County where the property is located.
Some County clerk’s offices provide this document. But, it never hurts to reach out to an attorney for help.
6) Check for Safe Deposit Boxes
Many Executors forget to check on whether their loved one owned a safe deposit box. People who rent these boxes generally keep a lot of important information inside them that can be helpful to the Executors. So, be sure to check the banks where the deceased held accounts to ensure there are no safe deposit boxes with valuable information and/or assets inside.
7) Close Unnecessary Accounts
Don’t forget to close down any existing accounts that are no longer necessary. Though utilities will be useful until a home is sold, close them right after. Other accounts to look for and close include credit cards, cable, internet, phone services, and home care services.
I have questions about managing a loved one’s estate! Reach out to an experienced probate attorney today!