Over the weekend, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Pearls Are Mine", about the difficulty of winding up your parent's affairs after their death. From tying up financial loose ends to sifting through personal belongings and paying bills, the task for a lay person can be overwhelming. Not only are you dealing with the loss of a parent, but now you are faced with administering their estate.
A few do's and don't from the article that I think will be helpful to our readers:
- Don't let the sheer volume of stuff paralyze you from making necessary decisions.
- Do hire help. Hiring an attorney who experienced in estate administration to advise you and help you navigate the administration process, to ensure that you are fulfilling your requirements under the law. Also, attorneys who are experienced in estate administration can connect you with other professionals (CPA's and estate liquidators to name a few), that will be invaluable as you administer your parent's estate.
- Don't fight. That is not what your parents would want. To minimize the odds of this happening, following the instructions in number 2.
Another helpful tidbit from the article, which is also one I regularly advise my client's of, is for parent's to discuss with their children how the parents' estate will be divided, as opposed to the kid's finding out after mom and dad pass. While this may be awkward, in my experience hearing it from "the horses mouth" goes a long way to heading off any potential problems after mom and dad's passing.