Accept your situation exactly as it is: Your parents’ property is “in limbo.” Somebody is going to have sort through their personal papers and try to figure out what property they owned, what debts they had, and how this property should be distributed. Someone, probably you, will likely need to file a petition to be administrator of at least one of the estates. This is not the time to hurry, but to be very deliberate.

Do not pay bills except to keep the lights on and the mortgage paid. The credit card companies will bug you often, but they are a very low priority; if there are not enough funds in the end, they are the ones who should go short, not the funeral home or a secured creditor such as the holder of the car note.

As much as you might wish to divide the property, wait! The debts must be paid first. Moreover, different types of property pass to heirs in different ways, that is, in or out of probate. For instance, real estate usually is part of the estate administered through the probate court, but insurance policies and pension funds are often passed to a beneficiary named by the owner of the account. If the beneficiary is not alive, the funds go into the estate.

You should gather as many documents as possible and make an appointment with an attorney you can trust. A short consultation would likely result in a game plan you could likely implement without extensive involvement by the attorney, just guidance.