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What does an estate administrator in Polk County do?

People in the Polk County area who have given any thought to their assets and the future of their estate likely understand that estate planning is a process that requires appropriate legal instruments and proper documentation. While many people may understand the general concepts behind estate planning and administration, they may not be so well-versed when it comes to the more particular aspects of the legal process. For example, what role does the estate administrator play in estate administration, and what are their legal duties?

After a person dies, the administrator of their estate must search all of the deceased person's financial records to find and notify any outstanding creditors of the person's death. One of the ways that the administrator can do this is by looking through the decedent's bank statements and finding recurring payments. An auto loan, for example, would typically require a person to make monthly payments. The administrator could find this debt by examining the decedent's records and seeing those monthly auto loan payments.

In addition to finding and contacting all of the decedent's creditors, including credit card issuers, the estate administrator must get in touch with all people and organizations that provided medical care to the decedent prior to their death. The administrator and their attorney cannot file any estate taxes until after the administrator has compiled all of the medical bills.

Once the estate administrator has a complete picture of the estate's debts and medical expenses, that person eventually has to take care of the estate's tax responsibilities. Handling those aspects of the estate leads to the final steps of administration, which is distribution of assets.

Estate administration comes with many responsibilities, and the process can take years to complete for a complicated estate. Because the administrator has so many responsibilities, that person should be fully aware of these duties before agreeing to be the administrator of a friend or relative's estate. Likewise, the administrator will probably want legal representation to help them through the process and to protect them from making costly mistakes that could cause them to end up facing lawsuits or other legal issues.

Source: American Bar Association, "Administrator of a Probate Estate: Duties and Responsibilities," Kenneth A. Vercammen, accessed on Nov. 12, 2015

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