How to Finalize an Estate

When an individual dies, the executor will be responsible for closing out his estate in a timely manner. The process of finishing out an estate can be complicated, depending on its size and complexity. This process involves handling claims against the estate and making sure all of the beneficiaries are given the property they are owed. If you are appointed as an executor for someone's estate, you should feel honored, but be prepared to work.


Step 1

Get a copy of the original will and the person's death certificate and take it to the local probate court. Once at the probate court, you will need to file a petition for probate. You will then be given a date to appear in probate court. Once that date arrives, you will need to appear in court and provide the will to the judge so that it can be verified. If the will is legitimate, the judge will grant you the authority to handle the estate.


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Step 2

Publish a death notice in the paper and then begin inventorying the assets of the estate. You may not have to publish the death notice in some states. You will need to get an accurate inventory of all of the money and assets of the estate. You may need to open a checking account in which you can transfer all liquid assets so that you can divide them up later.


Step 3

Pay any creditors that make a claim against the estate. For example, if the deceased individual had a credit card debt, you would take some of the money from the estate assets and use it to pay the bill. You will also need to file your tax returns and pay any taxes that are still owed by the estate. If any creditors do not file claims during this time, you may not have to pay those debts.


Step 4

Distribute the remaining assets of the estate according to the wishes of the deceased person. On the will, the deceased should have named specific beneficiaries and what property go through each one. In some cases, you may have had to dip into the assets to pay for the debts with creditors. If this is the case, the contribution to each beneficiary may be a bit smaller. Once all of the property has been distributed, you will typically have to go in front of the judge to get a final settlement notice. At that point, your duties as the executor are finished.