When a loved one passes on, it is a sad time for family and friends. While you must take your time to grieve, the executor of an estate will be forced to take action sooner rather than later. The process can be a lot to manage. If your loved one has chosen you to be the executor of their estate, they know that you are capable of handling the responsibilities that come along with it.
We have been able to put together a list of tips that will help you sort out your loved one’s estate plan. The most important item on the list is to take your time. If you try to rush this process, mistakes might be made. These mistakes can lead to a legal situation that can bare the world’s weight on an already grieving family.
Tips for the Executor of an Estate Plan
1. Obtain the death certificate
If you are the executor of the estate, not only are you going to be responsible for distributing the assets of the deceased, but you are going to be responsible for the funeral and burial arrangement as well.
The death certificate is an important document because it is an official document that states that the individual is deceased. You will need this document when notifying banks, insurers, investment firms, the Social Security Administration, and others about the death.
2. The Will and Trust
The next set of documents on the list are the will and trusts of the deceased. If you are required to go to probate court, these documents will come in handy. If the deceased had a living trust, you may be able to avoid probate altogether.
3. Look for Professional Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. An attorney will be able to help you sort through any legal matters quickly. Also, a tax professional might be worth enlisting. A tax professional will help organize a final tax return and any taxes that are owed on investments, retirement accounts, or inheritance.
4. File ‘Letters Testamentary’
This tip is only applicable for estates that have to go through the probate process. Letters testamentary is a document that states that you are the executor of the estate. This letter is necessary for your to begin the process of filing for taxes, distributing assets, paying bills, and so on.
5. Locate and Protect the Assets
One of the most important steps in this process is not only locating all of the assets but protecting them as well. After you are deemed officially deemed the executor of the estate, you are going to want to locate all of the deceased’s assets and get the financials in order. Make sure that all of the assets are represented and documented. Do not allow anyone to take an asset (favorite painting) before you pay any debts the deceased had.
6. Pay Bills and Taxes
The executor of the state is responsible for paying the debts of the deceased. If there are any unpaid bills or taxes, he/she will address them before distributing the assets.
7. Don’t Rush the Process
As we stated earlier, this may be the most important tip on the list. Don’t rush the process. We understand that this process can be long and potentially drawn out with technicalities and legalities, but it is important that you do everything by the book. Keep yourself organized and don’t be afraid to as for help from a professional.