Tip 1: Get the Will
As an executor, it’s your duty to make sure the decedent’s last wishes are followed. Because of this, it’s important to obtain the Will, or a copy of the Will, as soon as possible once you realize you’ve been nominated as executor. It’s also important to note that if someone has asked you to serve as executor, also known as personal representative depending on the state and the situation, you are under no legal obligation to accept the nomination and can refuse. However, if you choose to act as executor, you’ll want a copy of the will so you know what is expected of you.
Tip 2: Get the Death Certificate (and Copies)
After the person has died, you will want to quickly obtain numerous copies of the death certificate. Depending on your state, death certificates can be issued by coroners, funeral directors, physicians, or medical examiners. You’ll need multiple copies because other parties involved with the estate will need to know that the person is officially dead.
Tip 3: Begin Probate
Once you have the Will and the death certificate, you’ll probably be able to begin the probate process. Though probate is not always required, you’ll want to open a probate case as soon as possible to obtain the legal authority to begin handling the estate assets.
Tip 4: Get an Attorney
You’ll definitely need to hire a probate attorney in order to help guide you through the probate and estate settlement process. The attorney’s fees will be paid for by the estate, but you’ll need to speak to the attorney as soon as possible once you’re named executor.