Losing a parent is a sad and stressful event. In the midst of your grief, you are required to not only make decisions about funeral arrangements but also decisions about how to wrap up your parent’s affairs.

If your parent has left a will or trust, these documents will help guide you in closing your parent’s affairs. After making funeral arrangements, look through your parent’s papers to find out if he or she has a will or trust or both. If a will or trust exists, read through the documents carefully for the identification of an executor or successor trustee. Then inform that person that he or she has been nominated and provide the documents to him or her. It is important that nothing be distributed until the authority has been given to do so.

The person who is named executor in the will is responsible for marshaling estate assets, identifying valid creditor’s claims, filing tax returns and paying taxes, and distributing the remaining assets of the estate.

The person who is named successor trustee of a trust is responsible for administering the trust in accordance with its terms. This includes an accounting of trust assets and distribution of those assets.

If you have been named executor in a will or successor trustee of a trust, you may find it beneficial to contact an attorney for advice on how to proceed. During times of grief, many people find it difficult to manage the end-of-life affairs of the lost parent, navigate the court system, manage emotional family members, and mediate potential disagreements. An experienced attorney can help these processes proceed as smoothly as possible.

For more information on administering an estate or a trust, click here.