If you have been named as the executor of someone’s will, and that person recently died, you are now tasked with an important job. Do you know what to do? Do you know where to start? The following gives a brief explanation of how the process works.
1. Gather and Read the Will
If the decedent didn’t provide you with a copy of the will already, you can speak with his or her lawyer to obtain a copy. You could also search filing cabinets, safes and other similar areas in the decedent’s home. Read through it, organize an inventory of assets and beneficiaries, and contact those beneficiaries and anyone else with an interest in the will to discuss the outlined provisions.
2. File the Will
Take the will and file it with your local probate court. This step ensures the will is valid and gives you the official authority to act as the executor. You generally only have up to one month to do this.
3. Manage Finances
Opening a separate bank account to handle the estate is a smart way to manage finances and debts, and to secure assets. At this point, you’ll need to sell property, pay debts, cancel credits cards, cancel subscriptions, cancel utility bills, notify healthcare professionals and other similar tasks.
4. Distribute Gifts and Property
In the decedent’s will, there should be a list of gifts, property and other assets he or she would like distributed in a certain way. After all financial issues have been settled, you’ll distribute these gifts to beneficiaries. Sometimes this includes gifting a car to a grandchild, sometimes it includes splitting money between children and sometimes it includes donating a large sum to a particular charity. If your state allows an executor fee, be sure you collect it.
5. File Income Taxes
Filing income taxes for the decedent is just as important as filing your own income taxes. If there are previous years in which the decedent did not file for some reason, you’ll need to file for those years as well.
6. Close the Estate
Closing the estate includes filing financial data, closing bank accounts and sending statements to each of the beneficiaries. You’ll then need to file an affidavit with the court. This affidavit states you have completed the decedent’s final wishes and desire permission to have the case formally closed. When the court closes it, your duties are done.
Getting Started with Assistance