An executor is a person named in someone’s will who — once confirmed by the court — oversees the distribution of their estate.
There’s a lot that an executor is expected to do. If you find yourself in this position, here’s where to start:
Locate the deceased’s last will
The executor may need to discuss with the testator as to where their will and other related documents can be found. If the will appears lost, the executor may reach out to the U.S. Will Registry. Without a valid will, the testator would die intestate. The state would administer the testator’s estate to heirs, which may mean their last wishes are not met.
Submit the will to probate court
Once the will is found, the executor can submit it to probate court. The probate court should then review and make a final ruling on the division of assets. In other words, once the probate process starts, the executor can continue administering their role.
Collect death certificates
The executor should collect several copies of the testator’s death certificates. Dead certificates can be collected at a funeral home or local state or county vital records offices.
Report the testator’s death to banks, creditors and life insurers
Using the death certificates, the executor can reach out to banks, creditors and life insurers to notify them of the testator’s passing. The executor may also need to use the death certificates to collect insurance, veteran’s or Social Security survivor’s benefits.
Locate any assets
The will should have an itemization of assets that are to be distributed. Some of these assets, such as real estate or storage units, may need to be located. Other assets, such as jewelry or collectibles may need to be acquired and hidden safely until distribution.
Contact all beneficiaries
Possibly the most important part of the administration process is reaching out to beneficiaries listed in the will. The testator may leave behind a list helping the executor contact family members and friends who are legally entitled to assets in the estate.
If an executor is reluctant about their role or has questions, they may need to reach out for legal help.