What should I be doing as Estate Administrator? – Durham Lawyer

What should I be doing as Estate Administrator? | Lawyer in Durham NC

When a person dies, his or her assets will likely go through the probate process, which is carried out by a person appointed as the legal representative or the estate administrator, but if the deceased person has a Will, the person is typically called an Executor. The administrator or executor can be a spouse, a family member, a friend or an attorney in Durham NC.

An estate administrator is in charge of managing the deceased person’s estate by handling the finances, including creditor claims, other just debts, and taxes. The duties of the estate administrator can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Filing an administrator petition to open an estate in the county where the decedent lived or owned property.
  • Filing the will with the local probate court.
  • Obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS for the estate. This gives the administrator the authority to file taxes on behalf of the estate.
  • Contacting hospitals or other medical treatment facilities to get the medical bills.
  • Taking inventory of the assets. This can include appraisals, but often does not. It may be necessary to provide proof of the value of certain property.
  • Letting certain creditors know about the death of the decedent.
  • Determining whether debts are proper and making court filings related to creditors.
  • Closing accounts of the decedent at banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions.
  • Opening a bank account to manage property of the estate so that the debts can be paid.
  • Preserving and maintaining property of the decedent until it is sold or distributed to the heirs.
  • Placing a public notice in an appropriate newspaper or publication to inform unknown creditors that they can make claims during a certain time period and alerting them to their right to file claims.
  • Paying the decedent’s debts with the assets. If there are not enough funds to pay everything, they have to be paid in a certain order. Certain debts are required to be paid before others.
  • Filing income tax returns for the last year (final income tax return) and paying any taxes owed with the estate funds.
  • Filing estate income tax returns if needed.
  • Reporting what you have done in the estate through detailed records you will file with the court.
  • Distributing the leftover assets to the heirs after debts have been paid and showing proof to the court that it was done properly.

Serving as the estate administrator is a huge responsibility and not something to be taken lightly. There are a lot of legal issues and a lot things that can cause problems for the administrator if it is not done corerctly. While some estates can be completed in a few months, some estates have issues that require them being open for 2 or more years. It is necessary for the estate administrator to be aware of the entire legal process, know what issues the administrator is going to face, and be ready to handle them. Working with a lawyer in Durham NC while serving as an administrator can help you handle the estate correctly and likely faster, and often the attorney can be compensated from estate funds for their services.

Contacting an attorney in Durham NC with Questions about an Estate

If you were named as the administrator of an estate and would like to figure out what you need to do next, you can call a lawyer in Durham NC with questions. Initial consultations will get you a lot of information to help guide you through the process and help you decide whether you need a Durham estate attorney. The attorneys at Hopler & Wilms help people with estate and probate cases.

Call (919) 244-2019 or Email [email protected] to get started.