A court handles distribution of the assets in an estate in cases in which the deceased created a legally valid will. Individuals who die without a will require courts and other individuals to infer their wishes. One of the most important issues to address involves the appointment of an estate administrator. This person manages the financial obligations of the estate, disposes its assets in accordance with determined interests of the deceased, manage its creditors, and pay any and all other obligations owed to other parties.
Estate administrators must carry out specific duties to fulfill their obligations. These include:
- Gathering all estate assets;
- Requesting an IRS identification number for tax purposes;
- Paying off any obligations owed by the deceased;
- Reimbursing funeral expenses;
- Distributing remaining assets to the surviving family.
State laws recognize the position of estate administrator as one of trust and confidence. They restrict those who can serve as an estate administrator. The list usually follows a particular order: surviving spouse, children, parents, and grandparents. The law in Ohio follows this hierarchy. Those who serve in this capacity usually pay a bond as a condition of accepting the position; they also receive a commission from the estate.
Wills ease estate administration
The absence of a will creates unnecessary administrative concerns. Complex issues regarding the disbursement of assets place family members in an awkward situation. Attorneys dedicated to estate administration can provide guidance.