Accepting the role as an executor is no small task. Your roles and responsibilities vary depending on the life of the deceased and what they left behind. Ideally, the deceased prepared his/her death with documents that provide specific instructions.
Tip #1 Collect the will and/or trust documents
These can also include insurance documentation, investment accounts, prearranged funeral plans, real property, business partnerships and bank accounts.
Tip #2 Seek appropriate tax and legal advice
The estate you are serving will pay for a lawyer. Having an attorney can keep you from breaching any number of fiduciary duties the court will hold you to. The court also favors attorneys who know the right forms to use to make process smoother.
Tip #3 Order twice as many death certificates as you think you’ll need
You will need them for Veteran’s benefits, Social Security Administration, notifying bank accounts, life insurance, etc.
Tip #4 Don’t do anything until the probate process is complete
Tip #5 If you are not capable of being an Executor, SPEAK UP!
It’s important to know that if you are unable or unwilling to serve as executor, you can refuse, and the contingent executor will step in, or the court will name a new one.
Bonus Tip: Set up a checklist
Do not underestimate the importance of your role as the executor. As an executor, you are generally compensated for your time and effort, but if you make mistakes, you may be held personally liable.