What You Need to Know About Managing Your Loved One’s Estate

estate planning, managing estate

Managing a loved one’s personal affairs after they die can be overwhelming. Often there are several tasks that need to be completed after the funeral, and the process can be complex and time-consuming especially for family members coping with grief and loss. Using a checklist is a good way to keep things organized when settling a deceased person’s estate.

After a death, planning a funeral usually takes precedence and settling the estate comes afterwards. There are certain duties that should be addressed immediately, such as taking care of dependent children, tending to pets, and securing the home but generally the majority of estate management tasks follow a timeline of about 6-18 months to completion.

What Does an Executor Do?

The main job of settling a loved one’s personal affairs is performed by the executor. An estate executor is the person responsible for managing the legal and financial affairs of the decedent and making sure all assets and property are distributed according to instructions set out in the will. While the role of executor isn’t exactly a walk in the park, the chosen person does not need to be an expert in estate law or accounting and can obtain outside professional assistance to execute the will successfully. 

Executors can also use EstateExec online software to simplify the estate administration process. This user-friendly online tool provides automated guidance on legal requirements, calculates estate accounting and financial values, and keeps track of time-sensitive reporting deadlines. 

First Things First

If you are the executor of your loved one’s estate, here is a list of what you should do as soon as possible within the first week after death:

  • Inform family members and close friends.
  • Notify employers and/or business partners.
  • Locate the deceased person’s will or estate planning documents.
  • Secure the deceased person’s home and assets.
  • Order multiple copies of the death certificate.

Executor Tasks in the First Month

Getting things in order in the first month after the death is a key component of effective estate management:

  • Review the contents of the will/estate plan and determine if you will need help from a lawyer or financial professional.
  • Conduct a full inventory of estate assets/property and secure valuable items as necessary.
  • Keep things running smoothly, e.g., pay monthly bills, protect and maintain unoccupied property.
  • Provide the court with a copy of the will.
  • Notify the Social Security Administration.
  • Publish a public notice of death.

Executor Tasks in the First Three Months

Most of the executor’s work takes place within the first few months after death occurs, while other tasks such as filing estate taxes have later due dates:

  • Begin the probate process if applicable.
  • Appraise the estate to determine all assets and liabilities.
  • Notify the deceased person’s heirs.
  • Notify creditors.
  • Notify life insurance, financial services, retirement, and other agencies as necessary.
  • Manage the estate—open an estate account, distribute property, pay debts and taxes, resolve disputes, and finalize the estate closeout process.

Executor Duties Made Easy

An executor should be well-organized and possess strong communication skills in order to effectively manage their estate administration duties from start to finish. Whether you are a first-time executor or an established professional, EstateExec™ can help you avoid common mistakes in estate management and ease the burden of executor responsibilities. Find out how to get started with their detailed Executor’s Guide.

What do I do if my loved one didn’t have a will? 

Without a will in place, families can spend $12,000 or more for an attorney to settle their loved one’s estate. Funeralocity recommends saving thousands of dollars by using online resources such as Trust & Will to help you through each step. Trust & Will’s county-specific probate guidance makes it easy to gather the right documents and take the necessary next steps to settle the estate even though there was no will. We like that it offers three packages to choose from, ranging between $600 to $5,000 depending on the level of support you’d like.

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