Q: My wife recently lost her father, who left no will. She is his sole surviving family member. She recently received checks refunding deposits on her father's rental apartment, but they were made out to him. We asked the realtor to change the payee to include her name; but we were told this would not help us deposit the checks either. What must be done to allow her to deposit these checks?-- HA via email
A: Your wife should go to Surrogate's Court and ask to be named administrator of her father's estate.
An administrator has the same responsibilities as a person who is named an executor in a will.
It's her job to locate the decedent's assets, pay any outstanding bills, and to file his last income tax return on April 15 2010. People who die in 2009 still owe the government a 2009 income tax return if their 2009 income was more than $9,350, or more than $10,750 if they were over 65.