Getting started with your executor duties can be challenging, particularly while trying to handle the grief associated with a recent loss, but an executor does have some immediate responsibilities, and there are initial steps you can take to make the overall process easier in the long run.
Some things you likely need to do right away:
- Arrange the funeral
- Secure the assets
- Locate a copy of the will
- And more... (see First Week)
Longer term, it's not uncommon for the entire settlement process to last 6-18 months: some things just take time (while you wait). You also need to be careful about calendar year-end, with respect to various legal and tax filings.
Understanding the Big Picture
Fundamentally, it is the executor's job to manage and wind down the deceased person's estate, reviewing the will, resolving any debts, distributing assets to heirs, and filing legal paperwork. A somewhat simplified view of the overall process is:
- Arrange Funeral — Burial or cremation, memorial, etc.
- Take Inventory — Estate assets and debts
- Become Executor — Get appointed by the court (if going through probate)
- Send Notifications — Friends and family, social security, credit cards, etc.
- Manage Estate — Plan asset disposition, maintain assets
- Resolve Debts — Payment in full, debt forgiveness
- File Taxes — Decedent income, estate income, inheritance, etc.
- Make Distributions — Distribute net assets to heirs
- Wrap It Up — Finalize estate settlement, including probate final accounting (if applicable)
At multiple stages along the way you may have to file legal and tax paperwork, and while EstateExec will supply relevant information, it may be helpful to work together with a lawyer (see Do I Need a Lawyer?). While many estates must go through probate, which is the court-supervised version of estate settlement, the diagram below illustrates the steps that generally apply to every estate, whether or not probate is involved:
Like so many things in life, being an executor can become an all-consuming activity if you let it. While individual circumstances may sometimes require significant effort, it is EstateExec's job to try to minimize that effort, to help you through the basic process, and to organize the relevant information to make it easier for you and everyone involved.
EstateExec online software greatly simplifies the job of an estate executor. If you haven't already read the Introduction, you might want to do that now.
Once you're ready to begin, here are some suggestions for getting started with EstateExec:
- Create an Estate — Create an estate and answer a few simple questions
- Review Tasks — Check the Tasks tab to see your current list of tasks.
- Enter Some Assets — Use the Assets tab to enter some estate assets (see Enter Asset for more details).
- Save Your Work — Click the Save All button in the top right to save your work.
- Using Tables — Read Using Tables to learn about key capabilities of tables found throughout this app.
In fact, the Using EstateExec topic in the EstateExec Reference manual contains detailed starting instructions according to your role: estate owner planning ahead, executor planning ahead, or executor dealing with a death.
If you are an executor dealing with a death, once you've gotten started you may wish to consider automatically downloading transactions from your estate account's bank into EstateExec, rather than manually entering everything. And if you're already partway through the process, this automated download can help you quickly and easily catch up. See Bank Import for details.
Finally, you may find it helpful at some point to take a quick look at the Sample Estate, available from the Estate menu, so you can see how EstateExec is used for a typical estate.