How to Become an Administrator of Someone's Estate

The duties of an administrator of an estate can be time-consuming and varied. These include, and are not limited to, making burial arrangements, determining the assets of a decedent, paying unpaid bills and closing and transferring bank accounts and investments. Becoming an administrator of a family member or loved one's estate requires intestate status, meaning the decedent's will did not appoint an administrator.

File a petition with your probate court to assume duties as the administrator of the decedent's estate. List yourself as the administrator and list the names of all individuals who may have an interest in the estate. Wait to receive a citation from the court and then mail it to all individuals listed on the petition.

Start collecting and obtaining bank account information, all bills owed and personal property and belongings. Create an inventory list including all of these items and provide it to the probate court.

Set up a checking account to pay all unpaid bills. Pay all bills and taxes. File a final income tax return for the decedent in addition to a return for the estate if assets total more than $1 million.

Set up reserves for potential claims from creditors. Distribute any assets or belongings to family members or legatees if there was a will with no appointed administrator but assignment of assets to individuals.

File a final account with the probate court noting any income received by the estate since the decedent's death. Also, list all expenses and distributions. Distribute any remaining reserves.


  • Consider hiring an attorney to obtain the necessary information faster, to assist with understanding any legal obligations that decedent had and to help set up any bank accounts.

    An estate tax must be paid within nine months after death if the estate has a value of more than $1 million.


  • Family members or loved ones may object to your petition, which can lead to a trial to determine who should be administrator. Try to settle this matter before petitioning the court as it will delay the work that needs to be done on behalf of the decedent.

    Not paying estate taxes on time can result in the Internal Revenue Service issuing severe penalties and interest to you as the administrator.

    Creditors can make claims up to one year from the death of a person. Be mindful of this when setting up bank accounts and distributing assets.