Estate Administration for Family Members: What to Do First

estate planningYou have gone through the steps of arranging a funeral for your loved one that has passed away. However, now you are dealing with your role as the executor. You must administer the estate, but you are unsure where to start.

You do not have experience or knowledge about the process – and most people serving in this role do not. However, you are not alone. Not only do you have a will to guide you, but an attorney by your side to ensure you complete the process.

First Steps to Take After the Death of a Loved One

Unsure where to start in your role as executor? Here are a few steps to keep you on the right track:

  1. Find the original Will – First, you must locate the original will and ensure that it is the only version. If multiple versions exist, look for the latest version and verify with the lawyer that it is the latest. When you were appointed, the deceased should have told you where the will would be stored. If not, ask an attorney of the deceased or a spouse to see if they know where this document is saved.
  2. Obtain the death certificates – Next, you must get the official death certificate along with official copies. These are obtained from the funeral home or local county clerk’s office.
  3. Search for asset and debt information – The estate plan should detail all assets and liabilities associated with the deceased’s estate. You must find these assets and then have them evaluated. Assets can include everything from property to personal belongings, and even financial accounts. Therefore, it is imperative you take your time locating all assets of the deceased.  Categorize assets based on if they are in the sole name of the deceased or jointly owned.
  4. Collect names and addresses of interested parties – Now you must collect the names and contact information of all concerned parties in the estate. Interested parties are those listed in the will, but also any heirs that are entitled to a share of the estate if there was no will.
  5. Secure the assets – Next, you must secure the property associated with the estate. Secure and inventory all property so that it is not taken by family members, lost or stolen.
  6. Track your time and expenses – You are compensated for your time and all expenses you endure out-of-pocket for being the executor of the estate. Therefore, track your hours carefully. To avoid any disputes about your compensation, detail what you did during those hours and keep receipts for all claimed expenses.
  7. Hire an attorney – You have the right to hire a probate attorney for assistance with the administration of the estate. The estate also pays for your lawyer’s legal assistance, and the decedent should have made a provision or fund specifying costs of the lawyer.

Consult with a Probate Attorney

Consult with a probate attorney for assistance with your role as an executor. In Long Island and New York, you can call The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. for help. Schedule your consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

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