When you agreed to administer your uncle’s estate as executor, his eventual demise seemed a long way off.
However, with his unexpected death, your work on his behalf is about to begin. Here are five tips to help you manage your role as executor successfully.
1. File letters testamentary
You must follow all the rules as a personal representative, and to begin, you need to file letters of testamentary with the probate court. These legal documents prove that you have the authority to act as executor of your uncle’s estate.
2. Protect assets
Your uncle may have provided you with a list of assets. If not, you will need to find them. Your uncle’s attorney is a good place to start. You can also piece assets together using information from your uncle’s checkbook. Look for information about real property, business interests, insurance, collectibles, antiques and similar items.
3. Pay debts
As the executor, you are responsible for paying your deceased uncle’s debts. First, you must make sure that the assets of the estate are sufficient to cover those debts. Otherwise, a probate judge will prioritize payments to creditors. You will also file income and estate taxes.
4. Take your time
The administration of an estate can seem overwhelming at first and your inclination might be to get the job over with as soon as possible. Resist hurrying. Make lists. Remain organized. Remember that you have a legal responsibility as an executor. Take your time and make sure you do not overlook anything.
5. Ask for professional help
Your uncle may have chosen you to administer his estate not only because of your business sense but also your common sense. Seek accounting or financial help when necessary. An attorney will ensure that you make no legal missteps and help you become successful as an executor.