Posted on: 17 June 2015
If someone close to you passes away, the very last thing on your mind is probably what to do about their personal belongings or property. But if the relationship was close enough that the deceased name you as the person in charge of their estate after their death, you will need to pull it together quickly so that you can take care of the estate in the way that the deceased wanted. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you suddenly become the executor someone's estate or final will.
Get the Death Certificate
Rushing to get a death certificate can certainly feel a bit morbid, but this one document is critical to you being able to take care of the person's affairs properly. Companies or people that the person owed money to may not just accept being told that the person is dead. Having the death certificate gives you the legal power to shut down certain accounts or to inform others that you are now in charge of paying the debt.
Hire a Probate Lawyer
If the deceased name you the executor but did not say anything about legal counsel, you should take it upon yourself to get this taken care of. In some states, you may be required to go to probate court before you can actually start doing things like distributing assets or taking care of beneficiaries. You need an expert who has done this sort of thing before, so contact a local probate lawyer who can help walk you through the process. Ideally, you should legally be able to pay for the attorney using funds from the estate, but talk this through with the lawyer before anything is set in stone.
Protect the Assets
If there are valuable items that you know must be handed down to specific people, or funds that will be distributed a certain way, the first thing you should do after you have legal authority is get a hold of any and all assets and secure them. Consider getting a safety deposit box to store valuable non-cash items. You don't want any of the other beneficiaries fighting over the assets or trying to grab something before someone else does. Locate everything that is in the will, and after consulting your attorney, get it all secured and locked down. Then, you can move forward with distribution, knowing that everything is where it should be.
Having to serve as an executor of someone's will or estate can be stressful, especially if you were close to the person. Consider hiring a probate attorney to help guide you through this process and help ensure that no mistakes are made.Share