What is an Estate Administrator? | Lawyer in Cary NC
When a person dies and doesn’t leave a will, his or her assets go through the probate process, which is carried out by a person appointed as the legal representative or the estate administrator. The person can be the surviving spouse, another family member, a friend or a lawyer in Cary NC.
An estate administrator is responsible for managing the deceased, or decedent’s, estate by sorting out the finances, including debts and taxes. State laws differ, but in general the duties of the estate administrator can include the following:
- Filing an administrator petition in the county where the decedent lived or owned property.
- Filing the will with the local probate court in order to see who the decedent named as heirs.
- 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.
- If the decedent had medical care before his or her death, it may be necessary to contact hospitals or other facilities that provided treatment in order to get the medical bills. These will be needed before taxes can be filed because medical expenses can be deducted.
- Taking inventory of the assets. An administrator may need to have some assets appraised in order to properly calculate the estate’s value. Some states may require the list to be filed with the court.
- Notifying banks, credit card companies and any other agency with whom the decedent had a financial account to inform them of the death.
- Opening a bank account for incoming funds or funds made from assets that may be sold.
- Maintaining property of the decedent until it is sold or distributed to the heirs. If it is sold, the administrator is responsible for the sale and filing all required taxes and affidavits.
- Placing a public notice informing creditors that they can make claims during a certain time period and giving them details on how to file their claims.
- Paying the decedent’s debts with the assets. If there are not enough funds to pay everything, some states allow debts to be paid in order of importance, starting with liens, then the funeral and burial costs, then taxes, and finally, other expenses.
- Filing income tax forms for the last year and paying any taxes owed with the assets.
- Filing estate income taxes if it generates more than $600, and a form for the taxes on transferring the estate to the heirs.
- Distributing the leftover assets to the named heirs after debts and taxes have been paid.
Serving as the estate administrator is a major undertaking. You must follow many legal guidelines, and in some cases, could be held personally liable for issues such as unpaid taxes. In the case of larger estates, the process could take up to two years before it is completed. It is helpful for the administrator to be aware of the process and be able to handle any issues that may arise. It's also helpful to work with a lawyer in Cary NC while serving as an administrator to ensure you're following all guidelines set forth by law.
Contact Our Lawyer in Cary NC With Any Questions
Were you named administrator of an estate, but aren’t sure what to do next? Call our lawyer in Cary NC with questions about what you need to do to properly handle the estate so that all parties involved will be satisfied. We’re here to serve your estate planning needs, but we also handle elder law, trademarking, copyrighting, and DWI issues.