5 Keys to Executing a Will

Being the executor of a will can come with a lot of pressure if you’re not sure how to carry it out once someone has passed away. It can be an overwhelming and emotional time, especially if you were close to the person who has passed. Learning about the five steps to executing a will beforehand can prepare you for when the time comes and make it easier to work through.

  1. Obtain the Will

If you haven’t already been given a copy of the will or told where to look, try searching in usual places for it like filing cabinets, or check with the deceased’s lawyer. Review the will and any additions on it and make a list of everything included, such as property, assets, and gifts. Once you’ve determined who the beneficiaries are, contact them, as well as anyone else involved.

  1. File for Probate

Once you have the affairs of the will in order, you’ll need to file it with your local probate court. Probate is a legal process that determines the validity of a will after someone has died. Check with your state laws to see how much time you have to gather the inventory, the original will and the necessary court documents. You’ll need to submit all of these in the allotted time. Then you’ll need to contact creditors to see about any outstanding debts.

  1. Handle Finances

As the executor, it is your responsibility to ensure all debts and finances are taken care of. Any regular payments will need to be handled and normal bills will need to be gradually canceled. Contact the post office to cancel mail or get it forwarded to you.

  1. Distribute Assets

Finally, it is time to pass the remaining assets to beneficiaries. Keeping track of the inventory as debts are paid off can make this process easier. You may also be able to collect an executor fee for handling the affairs depending on what state you live in.

  1. File Taxes

The last taxes of the deceased still need to be filed. Gather the proper information or get help from an accountant, as estates can be more complex. If there are any outstanding taxes from previous years, you’ll need to file those as well.

Finally, you can close the estate. If these steps sound intimidating, you’re not alone. Dealing with these affairs would be challenging enough without knowing the deceased. Consider contacting an attorney, for help if you feel overburdened by your job as an executor.