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Estate planning: Serving as your parent's executor in Ohio

You knew your mom had written a will and named you as the executor. As sad as the idea of her passing made you, you agreed to serve in that capacity for her when she passed away.

You just didn't anticipate the mess she might leave you to figure out.

This generation of seniors has more debt than their predecessors. A 2012 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) showed almost 50 percent of seniors had less than $10,000 in assets. The 2016 Survey of Consumer Finance (SCF) showed that 26 percent have credit card debt, which is 159 percent more than seniors did in 1989.

So there you sit, surrounded by a whole bunch of bills and limited resources to pay them.

As the executor and the offspring of the deceased, panic sets in. Am I supposed to pay all these debts out of my own funds?

Relax — you aren't responsible unless you co-own the account or were a cosigner, such as on an auto loan.

With that immediate panic aside, as executor, you'll need to list all of the debts and assets of the estate. You need to pay the debts using the resources available to you, but it's a reality that not all bills will be paid.

Assets earmarked for you, your siblings or others, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other accounts where you are the beneficiary are yours to keep. Those funds cannot be taken from you to pay the bills.

The loss of a loved one is emotional enough on its own. Dealing with all of the ensuing financial paperwork only compounds tough times. After your parent dies, as executor you must follow the state law when it comes to allocating the assets for debts. An Ohio estate planning lawyer can help you do just that.

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