Table of Contents
- What is an executor of an estate?
- Accepting the role of executor
- Settling an estate
- Step 1: Find the Will and review its contents
- Step 2: Make funeral arrangements
- Step 3: Secure assets
- Step 4: Manage finances
- Step 5: Settle the estate
- Step 6: Disperse the estate according to the Will
- Step 7: Close the estate
- What's Next?
What is an executor of an estate?
- The testator is the person that created the Last Will.
- The executor is the person selected by the testator to execute the Will after their passing.
Accepting the role of executor
- Where is your Will located?
- Where do you keep important documents, such as property deeds, marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.?
- Did you designate an alternate executor?
- Are there co-executors?
- Who are your representatives for your Power of Attorney and Living Will?
- Do you have a list of all your bank accounts and corresponding information? Where is this list located?
- Are there any specific valuable assets or trusts?
- Who are your beneficiaries?
- What kind of funeral arrangements do you prefer? Did you include pre-planning arrangements in your Will or with a funeral home?
- Do you have a lawyer or an accountant that you want to assist with closing your estate?
- Are there any other instructions I should know?
If you are a co-executor, communicate with the other person (or people) to ensure you are all on the same page and can work together when the time comes.
Settling an estate
- Working with family, beneficiaries, and professionals to carry out the testator's estate plans
- Following instructions in the testator's Last Will and Testament
- Managing finance, legal, and business matters
Step 1: Find the Will and review its contents
Step 2: Make funeral arrangements
Step 3: Secure assets
- Keep the deceased's assets safe and insure their valuables or property, if necessary
- Conduct an inventory of items and get an appraisal if needed
- Determine if there are any non-probate assets (which are assets that don't need to go through the probate process and will pass directly to the heirs) included in the estate, such as trusts or life insurance (you can transfer this property outside of the probate court)
- Arrange for the transfer of any joint assets to the rightful owner
- Notify beneficiaries as per the testator's state requirements
- Notify creditors of the executor's passing
Step 4: Manage finances
It's essential to follow the testator's wishes regarding specific gifts or property. For example, try to avoid selling gifts unless there are no other assets that can cover debts.