The unexpected demise of your Uncle Harry not only left you with a feeling of sadness, but also with questions related to his will.
Uncle Harry named you as his executor, and you were proud to take on the task. However, you have never done this before, and you want to do a good job. Here are five tips for doing just that.
1. Locate the will
If Uncle Harry did not divulge the location of his will, your aunt may know where it is. If not, contact the attorney who drafted the document. Ask about the existence of other estate planning documents, too, because your uncle may also have had a trust or powers of attorney.
2. File letters testamentary
If no other estate planning documents exist, the estate must go through the probate process. You will file documents called letters testamentary, which the court will use to confirm your legal ability to act as executor of your uncle’s estate.
3. Protect the assets
If your uncle left you a list of assets, you will be off to a great start as executor. If not, you will need to locate them. The checking account should provide clues about assets, some of which may include real property, investments or valuable collections. One of your main responsibilities is to keep the assets safe until the probate process is over and you can make distributions to heirs per the instructions your uncle provided in his will.
4. Pay bills, file tax returns
In addition to protecting assets, you will have to pay bills using estate finances and file the final tax returns for your uncle.
5. Request professional advice
One of the reasons your uncle turned to you to serve as his executor may well be that you possess common sense as well as a good head for business. Do not hesitate to seek professional advice and support, especially legal guidance as you take on the work of an executor. Remember, you bear legal responsibility for the administration of your uncle’s estate. Your goal is to avoid mistakes by doing the best job possible.