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What you need to know as executor to your parents’ estate

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Probate

In Minnesota, when your parent chooses you to be their estate executor, they have bestowed trust upon you and a legal responsibility to manage their estate. This responsibility may involve a great deal of work at an emotional time. With a solid understanding of the process, you can navigate the tasks effectively.

Understanding the executor role

If named as your parent’s executor, discuss their estate planning documents in detail while they are alive so that you can clear up ambiguities and address anything mistakenly omitted so that you can honor their wishes fully. As the executor, you are legally obligated to manage the trust in specific ways, including a fiduciary duty to distribute the assets according to your parent’s directives.

Along with the responsibility comes the authority to complete relevant tasks, including setting up a bank account in the estate’s name and executing transactions, such as property sales, on behalf of your deceased parent’s estate. It also includes making necessary appearances in probate court and maintaining any property until you settle the estate’s affairs.

Gather important information

As the executor, you must submit the will to the probate court for validation. You must also gather important and relevant documents containing your parent’s identification and data regarding their assets. Necessary items include their will or trust documents, Social Security number, bank account numbers, investment accounts, property deeds and other financial and investment information.

You will also need to gather information regarding your parent’s outstanding debts. You must pay these debts from the estate’s assets before distributing the remainder to the beneficiaries.

Managing the estate’s administrative affairs

Managing an estate involves more than distributing assets and paying off debts. The estate must file a tax return. You may need to purchase at least 10 copies of the death certificate to supply to banks, credit providers, insurance companies and other relevant entities.

Distributing the assets

Upon completion of probate, and after you have paid the estate’s debts and any taxes due, communicate with beneficiaries regarding their inheritance. If your parent placed their assets in a living trust or similar, you may be able to skip probate. Distribute stocks, bonds, property and other assets to the beneficiaries.

If your parent did not have a trust or will, state laws dictate how you should distribute assets to the heirs. Upon receiving their distribution, each heir should provide you with a receipt.

Handling executor duties during an emotional time is challenging. Your commitment will ensure that you honor your parent’s legacy and wishes.