You’ve talked to your family about the importance of estate planning and will making. And you’ve had them all convinced that it’s important! Now, they’ve decided to name you as their estate administrator. All because you know about wills and trust. Estate planning as a whole. Shouldn’t that be good? It should be good right? But now you have a dilemma. You have no idea about the duties of an administrator! What do you do?
Sure you know about the qualities that an administrator must possess, like being trustworthy. Being responsible. Having a good relationship with beneficiaries. Being good with money. And you know that you have those qualities! But, what are they for anyway? So far your idea of an administrator of an estate’s duty is distributing the testator’s assets.
Don’t worry lah! We have compiled an entire list of all the administrator’s duties that you need to know and apply. So you don’t make a complete fool of yourself when you’re finally facing the task of administering the estate.
The 6 Duties of An Administrator of an Estate
1. Finding the Will.
Okay, you have been named as the administrator by your parents, or some other relative. And the inevitable finally happens. The first thing you need to do is get will. You may need to contact the family members (if you’re not related to the testator). Or you can talk to the family lawyer about the location of the will. If the testator is your dad or relative, for example, getting the will is easy for you. But, if the will can’t be found, you can search the Wills Registry to check where the last will was kept.
2. Obtaining the Grant of Probate.
You have the will, and you’ve read it. Now the next task that you should do as an administrator is to obtain the grant of probate. The grant of probate is a legal document that the court gives to administrators. It will provide you with the authorisation to handle the testator’s estate. Without the grant of probate, you won’t be able to touch the testator’s bank accounts and other properties. The requirements for getting a grant of probate can be found in this article.
3. Listing all the Testator’s assets.
This will not be an easy job for you. If your dad, for example, did not keep full records of all his accounts that it will be your job to track all his properties. You need to have a complete list of all properties owned from the biggest to the smallest. Nothing must be left out! You might even need to hire a professional to help you draw up a list of the whole estate. Remember that trusts are not included in probate, and as an estate executor or administrator, you must only focus on properties held under probate.
4. Handling Estate Accounts.
You know that in will making all assets should be divulged. Since this will make things easier for you as an administrator of an estate. Once you have gotten the whole list of assets, then you should proceed with handling the accounts. Your job is to close the deceased bank accounts, as well as open new estate, accounts for holding purposes. This is for keeping the proceeds of sales, rentals, or dividends and even monies from insurances.
You may also be required to pay for agent fees, valuer’s fees, lawyer fees and other professionals. Aside from these fees, you will also be required to pay for income taxes, property taxes, maintenance and sinking funds due to any management corporation.
5. Dealing with Debts & Taxes.
Before you can proceed with distributing the inheritance to the beneficiaries. You must first deal with debts and mortgages. You need to check the solvency of the estate. By this we mean, see if the there are still assets left behind after all the debts have been paid. A solvent estate is ideally what you want. It has all its debts paid and with enough left over for the beneficiaries. An insolvent estate, on the other hand, means that even if everything left behind is sold, it won’t be enough to pay for the debts.
Your primary goal as the administrator is to pay off the debts, mortgages and other liabilities of the testator using the resources of the estate. And remember that if the estate is a solvent one, you should use up the residuary estate first before touching any property given as a special gift.
6. Distributing the Inheritance to the Beneficiaries.
After you paid off the debts, you will then distribute the inheritance to the beneficiaries. Keep note that you must not be unbiased. And you should never tamper the inheritance just because you dislike or like an heir. Be fair and always be responsible for your task as the administrator.
As for inheritances which cannot be given outright yet because of the age of the beneficiaries. Then it is up to you to look for ways in which the said assets can increase over time. Example investments and buying stocks. It will be up to your discretion how you can care for the assets left in your care.
The job of an administrator of an estate is not easy. It requires your skill. It requires your patience and your rational judgement for financial decisions. Sometimes you might even have to take money from your own pocket to pay for fees and legal requirements. But, being knowledgeable in what the duties of an executor are and what you should and shouldn’t will help you a lot as you undertake the task. Be alert, rational and wise in the decisions you make. And you’ll find that being an administrator isn’t as hard as it initially looked.