The death of your parent is bound to be an emotionally confusing time without the additional responsibilities of being named as executor of his or her estate. Elder Law attorney Gene L. Osofsky of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky has some sound advice and insight for those placed in such a predicament.
Having being named the Executor of the Estate for your father, which by many is considered an honor, means that you must have more patience and focus than the remainder of your family. This is difficult to do in times of high stress due to a death in the family. Some of the responsibilities which you must thereby assume include the following:
Creating an accounting for the deceased’s assets and liabilities
Giving notice to potential creditors
Settling outstanding debts
Making distributions for estate taxes, if applicable
Making fiduciary income tax return
Making distributions to named beneficiaries
Filing a final accounting with the court to close the probate process
Included with these responsibilities is the duty to keep the estate viable during the probate process. This may include paying the mortgage on a house or even making car payments. Probate can often be a lengthy process, which is why you can petition the court to release short term funding for these purposes while probate continues.
“If you’re thinking that this sounds like no easy job, you’re absolutely right,” says Osofsky. It is an endeavor that should never be undertaken lightly. Executors are generally entitled to compensation from the deceased’s estate, but most immediate family members decline this option. “One good bit of news from this,” explains Osofsky, “is that you are not financially responsible for any debts the deceased may have accumulated.” To emphasize, all debts, taxes, legal fees, and administrative costs should be paid from the estate of the deceased, not from your own pocket. If you have advanced any such costs, you are usually entitled to claim a refund from the estate.
But the responsibilities of an executor can often be accomplished more efficiently with the help of a knowledgeable Elder Law attorney, such as Gene L. Osofsky of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky. “We receive requests from clients to assist them in handling their responsibilities as an executor, especially when the executor is overwhelmed with grief and not accustomed to some of the required duties,” Osofsky explains, “If you find yourself in this situation, seek out an attorney knowledgeable in this process.” It will ease your burden, give you peace of mind, and may prevent needless family squabbles.