Probate is a legal process that oversees the transfer of a deceased person’s assets to their heirs and beneficiaries. Parents will often name one of their children or another family member as executor in their will, someone they trust to manage their estate. As executor, you will have various responsibilities and important tasks to take care of in the short and long term to complete the probate process.
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The Coming Days After Death
As executor, there are documents and filings you need to take care of within a few days after the death of a parent. The sooner this paperwork is taken care of, the easier it will be to manage the estate.
Acquire Medical Certificate
When a parent dies, you need to acquire a medical certificate either from a doctor (if they died in a hospital) or a general practitioner (if they died at home). If emergency services were involved because a parent died in a public space, you would be referred to the coroner, who will determine if the cause of death is clear. If the cause of death is clear, you will be able to obtain a medical certificate without delay. If the cause of death is unclear, it will take longer to acquire the certification. If a parent died overseas, other rules might apply, be sure to find out the laws in that country.
With the medical certificate in hand, you can now apply to register a parent as deceased. You will need to provide proof of the parent’s home address, occupation, legal name, date, place of birth, and date and place of death. You may need a tax return, birth certificate, and other accepted identifying documents.
Organize Multiple Copies Of The Death Certificate
Make sure to purchase 5-10 copies of the death certificate. As executor, you will need to send death certificates to different companies to transfer the deceased’s assets. Other family members may also request a copy of the death certificate for their records.
Arrange For The Funeral
If your parent left a will, set up the funeral according to their wishes to the best of your ability. If they didn’t leave specific instructions, make funeral arrangements you feel appropriate. A funeral director can help you manage details for every stage of the funeral and burial, or you can pay them to take care of the entire process on your behalf.
The deceased may have pre-paid for their funeral, or you and other family members can choose to pay for the funeral if no arrangements have been made. You can also pay for the funeral from the estate’s funds by applying for probate if you cannot afford to pay for it yourself.
Notify The Benefits Agency
Make sure to notify a benefits agency such as the social security administration of a parent’s death. The benefits agency will have a service that reports to other agencies on your behalf.
To register a parent’s death, you will need to have identifying paperwork for your parent, such as a passport, birth certificate, death certificate, tax return, and social security number. However, the exact documents required may vary depending on the type of benefits you are requesting.
Asset Management In The Short Run
If your parent granted you power of attorney, you could manage assets in the short term. You can use estate funds to pay for the funeral and notify the relevant authorities. Once these steps have been taken care of, you have no legitimate reason to access estate funds for personal affairs.
Take Care Of The Affairs Of Departed Parent
If your parent named you as executor, it is your responsibility to take care of your parent’s legal affairs. This will include checking to see if they left a will, managing the release of their assets from the appropriate organizations, and notifying relevant companies of their death.
Make Sure There Is a Will
The first order of business as executor is to find out if your parent left a will. Perhaps your parent left a will with their attorney or another family member. If there isn’t a will and your parent did not name a personal representative, close relatives can appoint an executor.
Request Grant Of Representation
A grant of representation is an official document that may be required to manage your parent’s estate. Certain institutions may require it to release assets, and it will also be necessary if your parent owned property. You can file this document independently or hire an attorney to take care of it for you.
You will need to notify companies and institutions of your parent’s death to transfer assets such as bank accounts and retirement funds. Companies will require a copy of the death certificate or a grant of representation, depending on the asset and type of ownership the deceased person had.
It is crucial to notify organizations such as mortgage companies, banks, and utility companies so that you can stop any unnecessary transactions on your parent’s accounts.
As executor, you will also need to return the deceased’s government-issued identification to the relevant authorities, such as a passport or driver’s license.
Claim Bereavement Allowance
If your parent has a surviving spouse or young dependents, they should apply for survivors benefits as soon as possible. Check with the appropriate authorities right away, as this payment needs to be claimed within a certain period after the death.
Work Out Their Personal Affairs
As executor, you will need to manage your parent’s assets and their estate’s financial affairs, filing taxes, and paying business expenses.
Gather a list of all of your parent’s assets and find out how much each asset was worth at the date of death. Assets include stocks, property, businesses, and more. You will need to be aware of all income and interest your parent received for that fiscal year so that you can file taxes.
Payment Of The Inheritance Tax
Inheritance tax must be paid within six months of a person’s death. To do so, you must first obtain a grant of representation. It is best to take care of both of these steps as soon as possible, as interest fees may apply if you miss the sixth-month deadline.
Inheritance tax laws vary by state, so make sure to check with your probate attorney. You might have to pay inheritance tax even if you live in an exempt state, such as Florida, if your parent lived in another state that charges inheritance tax.
Once you have a grant of representation, you will collect assets such as income from the property sale. You will also be able to empty saving accounts and cash in shares to gather all of the deceased’s assets into the estate account.
Pay Any Debts
Any outstanding debts must be paid from the estate. Take your time to gather all of the information and contact companies as soon as possible, as it may take some time to resolve outstanding debts. For example, if your parent was in a care or nursing home, contact the house to find out if there are any remaining bills.
Distribute the remainder of the estate
Once the debts have been paid, you can disburse the remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries. If your parent left a will, disburse the funds according to their wishes. If there isn’t a will, disburse the funds according to state law.
Consider Your Own Needs
While you wait on the probate process, you may find your finances are in distress. Please don’t wait for the courts to do their job! Consider an advance on your inheritance to help you get through the process. Contact our staff today to learn more about your options.