Appointed Executor Of An Estate? What Next?

Posted on: 18 March 2015

If you've recently been asked to serve as the executor of a close friend or family member's estate, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. In many cases, the thought of gathering all necessary financial information and distributing the assets of the deceased can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, by hiring an estate administration attorney, you may be able to make this process much more streamlined and stress-free. Read on to learn more about what an estate executor does, as well as how an attorney like Edward G. Foster can help.

What is an estate executor's job?

The executor of an estate is required to distribute the assets of the deceased. In most cases, this is a process much easier said than done. You'll first need to find and access any of the deceased's assets—including safe deposit boxes, bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal effects. The deceased person's last will and testament may specifically list some of these assets, giving you a starting point, but in many cases it's up to you to go through the personal belongings and try to find clues as to the whereabouts of any assets.

The assets you find must then be liquidated or used to satisfy any outstanding debts in the deceased's name. For example, if the deceased owned a home but had an outstanding mortgage, and there were not enough other liquid assets to pay off the mortgage, the home would need to be sold. Any assets that are left after all debts have been paid are then passed on to the individuals designated in the will (usually children or other younger relatives or a charity).

What can an administration attorney do to help?

This process can often be overwhelming—particularly if your loved one didn't leave many clues about his or her financial life. Many individuals name a close family member as executor, which means that you can be dealing with the grief process while trying to carry on your everyday life and track down assets and debts.

By hiring an estate administration attorney, you can help take this process out of your hands and make it easier and quicker to finalize the estate. These attorneys are able to search court records and access income tax information, helping them quickly determine where all assets and debts are located and what must be done to satisfy the debts. Estate administration attorneys are also able to help prepare the final report to the probate court, allowing the remaining assets to be distributed to you and other heirs.