The passing of a loved one can be a tumultuous experience. When you are tasked with executing their estate, the feelings of grief and responsibility can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true if this is the first time you have ever had to administer an estate. We will let you in on a secret: starting is the hardest part. No matter what your situation is, taking even the smallest of steps in handling your loved one’s affairs can give you enough inertia to finish the job. Here are some ways to begin the process:
Find Their Estate Plan
If your loved one had a will, trust, or other estate plan in place, it is important to get your hands on it as soon as possible. The estate plan will guide you on what the next steps will be of making sure the distributions of their assets are accurate, so if you are having trouble locating it, contact their attorney. You can also check safety deposit boxes, safes that might be located at their home, or, for trusts, try asking their financial institution for a copy (although an original is required in most cases).
No matter how messy or complicated a job you have as executor or trustee, the duty to protect assets must be prioritized. As a personal representative of the deceased, you owe it to them to handle their affairs with fidelity. You can start by contacting the local post office and have their mail forwarded to you, changing access information to key financial accounts, and remove any valuables from their home for safe storage.
Start an Inventory
You may be required to file an official inventory list with the probate court if their will has to be probated. Begin by creating an unofficial version, listing out their assets with as much detail as possible. This will mean contacting financial institutions, searching county tax records and appraisal districts for any land they own, and even running a credit check to better understand their financial standing.
Solicit Professional Help
Administering an estate on your own is not always the recommended thing to do, especially if you have never done it before. You will want to speak with an estate attorney to better understand your duties as a representative of your loved one’s estate and how to best carry out their wishes. The team of experienced estate planning and probate attorneys at Hegwood Law Group will work with you to ensure your loved one’s final instructions are carried out as intended.
2020 has had a track record for not being the best year, so let us help put you at ease if you are appointed as an executor or trustee for your loved one’s estate plan and have to go through the process of administering their estate. You do not have to go through this alone. Call us at (281) 885-8826 or click here to schedule with us today.