If you’ve been named executor of a person’s estate, you have a great deal of responsibility in ensuring the estate is properly managed. Being named executor, also known as a personal representative or estate administrator, is a great honor, but also one that comes with specific duties. Though all states have different laws that impose different requirements on executors, you can help yourself ensure the process goes smoothly by taking specific actions.
Step 1: Discuss funeral plans.
If someone asks you to serve as executor, you should take a little time to discuss with that person the type of funeral arrangements and services the person desires. Alternately, ask if the person would be willing to write down his or her funeral wishes in detail so you can have a clearer idea of what to do when the time comes.
Step 2: Obtain official documentation of the death.
The estate settlement process cannot begin until a state official has issued a death certificate. Depending on the state in which you live, the official might be a coroner, physician, or funeral director. Ask for multiple copies of the death certificate and always get more than you think you’ll need.
Step 3: Talk to a probate attorney.
Acting as executor is not incredibly difficult if you are well prepared. However, unless you have a lot of experience with the probate process you will need a probate attorney to guide you. There are specific timelines and requirements involved in any estate settlement process, and a probate attorney will be able to explain the process to you in detail.