Almost all of the liquid assets were in the form of a Roth IRA which my dad had set up in April, 1998. This meant that they couldn't be touched without potentially nasty tax consequences before April, 2003. (No one was quite sure what the tax consequences were exactly, because there hadn't been that many people die with substantial Roth IRAs, so erring on the side of safety seemed best.) As a result, my brother and I ended up loaning a substantial amount of money to the estate to keep it afloat -- i.e., pay Connie's stipend from the trust -- which we finally got back this year.
Dad also left Connie a life estate in the house in Belleville. Unfortunately, Connie didn't actually want to live there and the property was deteriorating from lack of attention. The only way to cut the Gordian Knot was to give Connie the house so that she can sell it and buy a home in Kansas City where her relatives live. This also meant that I was no longer responsible for the house, which is a good thing. As part of that negotiation, we agreed to turn the trust over to a financial manager, which we've also done, getting another set of decisions off my plate. (So far, so good.)
When I was walking around Sam's Club this weekend, I suddenly realized that it's five years after my dad died. I recalled reading some IRS regulations about having to liquidate that Roth IRA, so I called the financial manager this morning and spoke to her. She hasn't had to deal with this issue yet either and is bucking it up the chain, but it looks like -- based on some reading that I did on the IRS web site -- that we don't have to break the Roth IRA open until the end of the fifth year following the year that my father died, which would be -- oh, crap! I just counted on my fingers and got the right answer -- December 31, 2004.
Which means that we'd better get this sorted out now. *sigh*