Discovering that you have been appointed executor of an estate can be overwhelming. Acting as executor of an estate does not have to be a daunting task, and there are many great online sources of tips for executors of estates. As a personal representative, you have been given the responsibility of probating the decedent’s estate, settling their final financial obligations and distributing their assets according to their pre-death wishes. You may find your duties to be quite easy if the decedent properly planned before their death. In other situations, you may find yourself struggling through a 7 to 12 month court probate process. Either way, here are some of our best tips for executors of estates that have helped our customers easily glide through their duties as the estate representative.
- 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 and let them know what action is being taken to settle and distribute the estate. It is important that all beneficiaries are aware of their interest in the estate. Good communication will avoid misunderstandings.
- Inventory all assets. Be aware that assets located outside California may require special handling.
- Identify all outstanding debts. It is important that all debts be paid before assets are transferred and distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Locate all existing insurance policies of the decedent.
- Determine what options are available to transfer the decedent’s assets to the heirs or beneficiaries. Do assets have pay-on-death provisions? Are there probate alternatives that can be utilized to transfer the assets?
- Collect unpaid salary, benefits and insurance.
- Contact a reputable company to prepare any necessary legal paperwork required to administer the estate.
- If probate is required, make a calendar of critical dates.
- Contact the Social Security Administration or other applicable agencies to determine if there are any benefits such as civil service, veteran benefits or other government death benefits due.
- Apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN ort EIN) which identifies the decedent’s estate accounts.
- File final personal tax return for the decedent and 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.
Best Kept Secret Tips for Executors of Estates
- 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 as compared to the mandated statutory attorneys fees.
A People’s Choice has over 35 years of experience helping people administer estates or file probate. We have helped thousands of customers save hundreds of thousands of dollars as 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.