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Getting started as the executor of an estate

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | blog, Estate Administration |

Serving as executor of someone’s estate is a position of honor and respect. In most cases, people choose someone they deeply trust for this role. As that executor, you may wonder where you should start. It may seem confusing to those new to the role, but it is easier than you think.

Understand the basics of the executor’s responsibilities so that you meet the obligations and settle the estate properly.

Gather the necessary records

The court requires proof of your role as executor for you to initiate probate. That means you need the deceased’s estate planning documents before you can proceed with any of the executor’s responsibilities. If you knew of your role ahead of time, you may also know where those documents are. If not, reach out to the deceased’s attorney for information.

Identify the estate assets

Once you have the estate plan, review the assets belonging to the estate. You need to identify and secure those assets before you put the estate in probate. Take possession of any vehicles or real estate properties to ensure their security during the process.

Consider the probate status of each asset

You may find that the estate plan includes establishment of a trust. If so, any assets placed in trust are not probate assets. Those assets transfer to the trust beneficiary automatically. Additionally, life insurance policies, joint assets and any transfer on death accounts stay out of probate. Assets not covered by these designations are probate assets.

These are key steps before initiating probate as the executor of an estate.