You know that being the executor of someone’s estate is a big job — but you probably have no real experience with the probate process.
Where do you even start? Let’s break down the steps:
- Find the will and file it with the probate court.
Finding the will and filing it with the local court is usually the first thing you need to do. If problems develop (such as an unfortunate dispute over the will’s validity), you’re can gain an inkling of what’s ahead as soon as the heirs are notified of the contents of the will.
- Secure the assets that belonged to the deceased.
The heirs may be eager to collect a few family heirlooms or divide the estate — but you can’t start passing things out until the will goes through probate. It’s your job to secure the decedent’s assets until that happens. Change the locks on their home and make sure that nobody walks off with the family silver. Take an inventory so that you have an idea of what may need to be appraised or sold.
- Obtain death certificates and arrange the funeral.
You will need several copies of the death certificate for all the actions must take, e.g., accessing the decedent’s bank accounts to filing their federal and state taxes. Also, each copy must be certified. You may also need to communicate the decedent’s final wishes to the funeral home and negotiate payments via any insurance policies.
Keep in mind, these are just the first steps in your probate journey. Fortunately, you don’t need to handle the entire thing on your own. Working with an experienced New York attorney can make everything easier for all involved.