After a loved one dies, a family member or close friend often steps in as executor of the estate. This time period is often fraught with grief and anxiety as the family endeavors to ascertain what happens next. The following are some of the first 9 steps an executor must take.
- Grieve. Take time to plan the funeral, grieve your loss, and allow the family to get their bearings. Few things rise to the level of an emergency after the loss of a loved one.
- Collect information. Begin collecting the deceased’s mail and consider redirecting the mail. Review the mail collected and compile a list of the deceased’s expenses, service providers, debts, and liabilities.
- Close accounts and pay final expenses. Contact each service provider such as the cable company and electric company and advise of the passing of the deceased, close the deceased’s account, and pay the last set of expenses.
- Contact benefits providers and other asset holders. Reach out to the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Motor Vehicles, Registrar of Voters, credit reporting agencies, life insurance company, or pension provider and advise the deceased has passed. Certain payments will cease (e.g., Social Security). Other benefits will be distributed (e.g., Veterans’ benefits, life insurance).
- Inventory assets. Begin to collect and compile a list of the deceased’s assets. Review copies of the deceased’s bank and brokerage statements, stock and bond certificates, life insurance policies, corporate records, car and boat titles, and deeds for real estate, among other assets. Assess the value and likely beneficiary of each asset. Evaluate if the deceased had a personal property memorandum or other document detailing how tangible personal property is to be distributed. Be careful not to discard any item a family member or loved one would like to keep.
- Establish estate accounts. Go to the bank. Create a bank account in the name of the estate. Pay estate expenses from the estate accounts.
- Keep a detailed accounting. Keep records of expenses paid, how the expenses were paid, if a third party is to be reimbursed for paying any estate expenses (e.g., funeral expenses), and the time spent handling estate matters.
- Identify estate beneficiaries. Review the estate plans, identify the beneficiaries, evaluate when and how beneficiaries are to receive a distribution, and notify the beneficiaries of their interests.
- Pay taxes. A final set of income and death taxes will need to be filed and/or paid. Even if no taxes are owed, a final tax statement must be filed to notify the IRS of the deceased’s passing.
Stepping in as executor can be work and even overwhelming at times.
If you have lost a loved one and require assistance stepping into the role of an executor, contact Allison Kierman at 480.719.7333 or fill out our contact form. Allison can help take care of you and your family.