Best Practices for Estate Administrator Duties


An Administrator must contact loved ones, pay debts, and distribute assets according to the deceased’s wishes (if they have a Will) or state intestacy laws. Best practices include working with professionals such as attorneys and accountants, keeping accurate records, and communicating effectively with beneficiaries to prevent disputes and legal challenges. Read more about Estate Administrator Duties.

Managing the Decedent’s Financial Affairs

The estate administrator has a responsibility to act in the financial interests of the deceased person’s family. This includes identifying all assets, including bank accounts and other investments. It also involves collecting, inventorying and appraising those assets and safeguarding them until they are distributed to heirs.

During this time, the estate administrator must pay bills and taxes. This can include paying for funeral costs and settling any debts incurred by the deceased person. It is the duty of the executor to publish a notice of claims and handle any creditors who submit valid legal claims against the estate.

Once the administrator has paid all debts and taxes, they can distribute remaining assets to heirs according to Ohio’s law of descent and distribution. This can be a complex process, so it is best to seek legal advice before making any final dispositions. One of the best practices is to keep meticulous records of all transactions. This includes detailed inventories, receipts of expenses paid and ledgers of all distributions to beneficiaries.

Notifying Heirs and Beneficiaries

Once all estate expenses have been paid, the administrator should distribute assets to the beneficiaries named in a will or according to state law if there was no will. This can be a complicated process, especially when there are multiple heirs or if family dynamics are difficult. One of the best practices for administrators is to provide regular updates to beneficiaries and communicate clearly with them. This can help reduce misunderstandings and legal challenges that may arise.

During this process, the administrator should also identify and secure any assets that are not yet distributed to the beneficiaries. For example, if the deceased owned a business, the administrator should determine if it is able to pay its existing debts and follow a specific priority system (laws vary).

Once all creditors have been satisfied, the administrator can sell any remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Keeping accurate records is another important best practice. This includes a detailed inventory of estate assets, receipts for all expenses, and a ledger of distributions to beneficiaries.

Filing Tax Returns

After identifying and valuing estate assets, the administrator must safeguard them until they are ready to be distributed. This includes real estate property, life insurance proceeds and investment accounts. The administrator must also determine if there are any tax obligations and file appropriate taxes. This can include income tax returns, fiduciary income tax returns, federal and state estate and inheritance taxes when applicable.

If there are outstanding debts owed by the deceased person’s estate, the administrator must pay them. This may require negotiating with creditors or going to court. Administrators must satisfy all creditors in order of priority before distributing any assets to beneficiaries or people entitled to the estate.

To manage estate affairs, the Administrator must obtain a letter of administration from the probate court. Without this, they cannot legally access the deceased’s bank or other financial account. An experienced estate administrator can help ensure that all requirements of the law are met. For more information, contact the Law Office of Paul Black today.

Distributing Assets

Once the estate’s assets have been accounted for, and any taxes have been settled, the administrator will distribute the remaining estate property to the designated heirs. This process can take some time.

The administrator must comb through the deceased person’s personal files and financial documents to identify the assets in the estate, including bank account statements, brokerage records, life insurance policies, credit card bills, medical expense invoices, car loan statements, etc.

Typically, an estate administrator will be a family member of the deceased person or someone who has been approved to serve as an executor in the deceased person’s will. However, the probate court may choose a different individual to serve as an administrator or trustee if the deceased person did not leave a will or a named executor cannot or will not perform their duties. This appointment is often made on the basis of a preferred party list established by state law. An interested party may file a petition or appeal to challenge the appointment.

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