Discovering that you have been appointed executor of an estate is often overwhelming. However, acting as executor of an estate does not have to be daunting. In fact, you may find your duties quite easy if the decedent properly planned before their death. Otherwise, you may struggle through a 7 to 12 month court probate process. Therefore, following some of our best tips for executors of estates has helped our customers easily glide through their duties as an estate representative.
Tips for Executors of Estates
If you’re acting as an executor of an estate and need extra support completing your duties, here are some of our top tricks we share with our clients:
- Locate and photocopy the decedent’s will – The original will should be lodged with the court – even if a probate is not necessary – within 30 days of the decedent’s death.
- Contact all beneficiaries – Let the beneficiaries know what action you’re taking to settle and distribute the estate so they are aware of their interests. Good communication will avoid misunderstandings.
- Inventory all assets – Be aware that assets located outside California may require special handling.
- Identify all outstanding debts – Note that you must pay all debts before transferring and distributing assets to the beneficiaries.
- Locate all of the decedent’s existing insurance policies
- Determine available options for transferring assets to heirs and beneficiaries – Do assets have pay-on-death provisions? Are there probate alternatives you can use to transfer the assets?
- Collect unpaid salary, benefits, and insurance
- Contact a reputable company to prepare any necessary legal paperwork – Consider hiring a registered legal document assistant to help prepare required paperwork to administer the estate.
- Make a calendar of critical dates – You will need to keep track of these dates if probate is required.
- Contact the Social Security Administration – Also contact other applicable agencies to determine if there are any benefits due such as civil service, veteran benefits, or other government death benefits.
- Apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN or EIN) – This number identifies the decedent’s estate accounts.
- File final personal tax return for the decedent – Also arrange for payment of due taxes.
- Close creditor claims against the estate
- Distribute estate assets to beneficiaries
Being the executor of an estate is a very important responsibility. As executor, you will need to be patient, well-organized, and fully committed to your duties and responsibilities.
4 Best Kept Secrets for Executors of Estates
- Believe it or not, you do NOT need to be an expert in legal matters, finances, or California law to be executor of an estate.
- You also do NOT need to hire an expensive attorney to administer an estate or file probate.
- Hire an experienced non-attorney registered legal document assistant to help you with any necessary legal paperwork. Be sure to check their online reviews and references of former customers.
- Be aware of the costs associated with hiring an attorney and know your options. If you have to file probate, our online Probate Calculator will show you exactly how much you will save using our probate services compared to the mandated statutory attorney’s fees.
A People’s Choice has over 35 years’ experience helping people administer estates or file probate. We have helped thousands of customers save hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to using an attorney. Contact A People’s Choice today at 800-747-2780 for more information about our probate and estate administration services.