Despite the fact that the executor of a Last Will and Testament has an enormously important, complicated, and time consuming job to perform, people often name an executor in their Will without even discussing the appointment with the intended executor ahead of time. So if you have just found out that you were named as the executor of the Will of a family member or loved one who recently died, know that this happens more often than you may think. Although seeking the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney will be crucial, there are a few steps you should take immediately in your new found role as executor.
- Protect and secure the decedent’s property. Because a full inventory will be required by the court, you should not allow anyone to take anything from the decedent’s home right after the death.
- Find out who the decedent’s estate planning attorney was. Most likely this will be the attorney who prepared the Last Will and Testament wherein you were named as the executor.
- Contact the decedent’s attorney and family members to try and compile a list of financial accounts, investment and retirement accounts and real property known to have been owned by the decedent.
- Inventory the decedent’s personal property. This can be a daunting task and one that executors often turn to professionals for help with. Look into an estate appraisal service if you do not want to spend the time doing this yourself. Even if you decide to do the inventorying yourself, be very careful if you uncover antiques, artwork or unique items that could have hidden value.
- Request professional appraisals for the date of death on any ral property owned by the decedent.
Once you have prepared your inventory, you will likely need to submit it to the appropriate probate court for approval.
You will need the assistance of an experienced estate attorney to assist in this process and help you avoid problems.