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How do I inventory and distribute my mother’s estate?

If you are the executor or personal representative of your mother's estate, you're probably dealing with a lot of legal responsibilities that you've never encountered before. These responsibilities can be overwhelming and stress-inducing. After all, you want to administer your mother's estate in the way that she wanted, while keeping your fellow family members happy.

Two of the most important steps of administering an estate relate to the inventorying of assets and liabilities, and the distributing of the assets.

Inventorying the assets of your mother's estate

Once you're appointed as the personal representative or executor, you'll need to document all of your mother's assets and liabilities. This process is called the "inventory." You need to account for all of your mother's bank accounts, investment accounts, insurance policies, real estate property, vehicles, jewelry, furniture and basically anything else of noteworthy value.

You also need to inform any creditors to whom she may owe money, such as credit card companies, bank mortgage issuers, car loan issuers, etc. If there aren't sufficient assets to pay all of your mother's creditors, then you'll need to get court approval to decide which ones will be paid.

Distributing the assets of your mother's estate

After the estate pays the creditors and all taxes, it's time to distribute the assets of your mother's estate. In the event that your mother did not have a will, you'll want to discuss with an attorney how Florida intestacy laws will govern the distribution of your mother's assets. If there is a will, then you'll distribute the assets in the manner that your mother outlined in her will.

Feeling overwhelmed with your estate administration duties?

Being the administrator of your mother's estate is not an easy task. Especially if your mother had a large estate, it could be complicated to sort through all of the tax, creditor and asset inventorying duties. You may also have to manage the expectations of potential heirs so that they do not inadvertently expect to receive more of the estate than they are likely to receive.

Having an estate lawyer by your side to assist with your estate administration duties can be invaluable. You may also wish to transfer the majority of your responsibilities over to the care of a competent lawyer, who will ensure that you handle everything in a legally appropriately manner.

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