This article serves as a general guide and shouldn’t be substituted for the advice of a professional lawyer. For personal matters regarding individual estates, consult an attorney.
After someone close to us passes away, our worlds are turned upside down. We have racing thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t be thinking and doing. We may have some financial anxiety as well. What should I do? What am I in charge of paying? These are questions that may come to mind. In order to manage those financial affairs, it is essential to understand what costs are covered by your loved one’s estate. Knowing this information will reduce feelings of anxiety and allow you to get organized in the process.
It is possible that your loved one or family member left behind unpaid debt after they passed. Generally, the family member or personal representative (the executor) of the deceased’s estate is not responsible for paying off this debt. There are exceptions, however. If bills are due immediately and the deceased has left insufficient funds, then the executor may find it necessary to pay bills out of pocket until funds are made available. These bills may include mortgage and utilities. If for whatever reason the executor needs to do this, then they will be reimbursed for expenses.
Ideally, the executor would transfer available funds into an estate bank account set up for the sole purpose of paying the deceased’s bills and debts on the estate. They can’t use this money for anything other than paying bills related to the estate; an executor and a beneficiary (those who receive an inheritance) are not one and the same.
The executor’s job is to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and part of doing this involves covering funeral expenses. Funeral expenses are considered an expense of the estate. If a family member must cover the cost of the expenses for whatever reason, they can be reimbursed through the estate.
The estate also covers the cost of maintaining the property. In some cases, family members and executors agree on selling properties immediately, but in others, they agree to make improvements to the home before selling. When this happens, the estate is responsible for covering costs. Consult the advice of a professional real estate agent or appraiser for information pertaining to the sale of a property.
The final important costs covered by an estate are the costs incurred through meeting with professionals like real estate agents and accountants. Most services sought out during your time as an executor can be reimbursed so long as they pertain to the estate. This should provide you the relief of knowing that you don’t have to do everything yourself and there are people who want to help you.
We know that this is a challenging situation you are navigating. Know that Carson’s Village wants to be there for you. Call 877-789-0722 or fill out a Contact Us form for questions you have regarding what steps to take next. You can also visit our resource library for more information on a number of topics.