If you have been named an estate executor or administrator, there are a number of steps you must take in order to settle the estate. Laws may vary slightly from state to state, but in general terms, your duties include the following:
You must petition probate court to validate the will, list the heirs and begin the process of transferring the decedent's assets to the heirs. If required by the court, you may have to publish a public notice for creditors and other interested parties to review.
As an executor, it is your responsibility to identify, collect and value the decedent's assets. An estate checking account will need to be opened in order to pay expenditures, including estate taxes and fees. Other assets will have to be sold off or closed and transferred to the estate, including bank accounts, bonds and mutual funds.
Contact an appraiser to assess the value of real property such as a primary home and/or vacation home.
Set up an appraisal for tangible personal property, securing the same until these items are either sold or distributed. Secure all property; obtain needed insurance coverage.
Insurance & Interest
Process all life insurance claims. Gather interest accrued in individual retirement accounts and/or pension funds.
Pay off all debts related to funeral expenses, estate expenditures and other expenses. Pay estate taxes; fulfill bequests; and make final distribution of assets to beneficiaries. File final state and federal income tax returns.