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I'm the executor of my mother's estate: What should I do?

If you've been named the executor of your mother's estate, then you've been charged with the important responsibility of managing her assets and finalizing outstanding details pertaining to the estate. This might involve guiding the estate through the probate process.

No doubt, finances and legal proceedings are the last things on your mind right now, but with the assistance of an experienced estate lawyer, you should be able to navigate your responsibilities appropriately.

What are the responsibilities of an executor?

Pittsburgh residents who are fulfilling the role of executor for their parents' estates will have some specific responsibilities. It's important to be aware of these responsibilities to ensure that you carry them out successfully while honoring your mother's wishes.

The duties of an executor are as follows:

  • Determining if probate is necessary: Probate is often an unavoidable requirement. However, in some circumstances - if the decedent planned his or her estate appropriately - probate will be unnecessary.
  • Creating a bank account for the estate: You'll need to keep your money and the money of your mother's estate separate. As such, you'll want to create a special account in the name of your mother's estate.
  • Gathering and compiling a list of the assets of the deceased: You'll need to gather all financial assets, deposit the cash in the estate's bank account, and determine if all assets have been accounted for.
  • Contacting heirs named in the will and other interested parties: It's your responsibility to notify all potential heirs and other interested parties of their potential beneficiary status.
  • Filing the will in probate court: This is a legal requirement in most cases.
  • Finalizing outstanding affairs: There could be any number of concerns relating to the decedent that you'll need to deal with after your mother's death.
  • Paying payments that are the estate's responsibility: There could be mortgage payments and other maintenance obligations that you have to keep paying on behalf of your mother's estate.
  • Paying debts: Before you can dispense the assets of the estate to the appropriate heirs, you must pay off any and all outstanding debts.
  • Paying income tax: In addition to paying off debts, you'll have to make a final income tax filing and satisfy any tax obligations before distributing the estate's assets.
  • Distributing the assets in accordance with the will: The last step involves the distribution of assets to beneficiaries per the will.

Get help with your estate administration duties

Being the executor of a Pittsburgh estate is a big responsibility. If you fail in meeting your responsibilities appropriately, you could be financially liable for the errors you make. As such, you may want to get help from an estate lawyer, who can alleviate you of the most pressing burdens of being an executor, in addition to ensuring that everything is done appropriately and by the book.

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