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Tips For Managing Probate

Acting as executor of an estate (also called “personal representative” in some states) doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task if you’re organized.

As the “manager” of the estate, so to speak, the executor is legally responsible for protecting the assets of the decedent, or deceased, until the probate process is completed and the assets are disbursed.

Acting in good faith won’t get you in trouble if the assets in the estate drop in value (with investments, for example), but you could be found liable if you allow assets to be tampered with before the probate process is complete or you sell off assets at fire-sale prices to raise cash.

So it’s important to know that if you are unable or unwilling to serve as executor, you can refuse, and the contingent executor will step in, or the court will name a new one.

State probate and tax laws vary, but if you set up a checklist and seek appropriate tax and legal advice, settling an estate can be orderly.

These twelve tips will keep you on track.

  1. Who is the personal representative or executor?
  2. Locate the Will, if there is one.
  3. Contact medical professionals, and any other businesses that the decedent saw on a regular basis.
  4. Secure and protect all property.
  5. Identify all bank accounts.
  6. Find statements for investment accounts, life insurance, pension and annuities.
  7. Put a hold on all credit cards, debit cards and online shopping accounts.
  8. Obtain twelve original death certificates.
  9. Obtain a “Paid in Full” funeral or cremation receipt.
  10. Arrange for the post office to forward mail.
  11. Contact a CPA to file the decedent’s final tax return.
  12. Contact Summerfield Law Office to assist with the estate.