A Loved One Has Died and You Are the Executor

The executor has duties, deadlines, and potential liability even for the simplest estates.

Depending on the decedent’s plan your responsibility has many names such as Executor or Trustee, or Personal Representative.

Regardless or whether the deceased was married or single or had a will or trust the estate must be administered. There are three basic steps: 1) gather the assets, 2) pay the taxes and expenses, and 3) distribute to the beneficiaries.

We make every effort to avoid probate. This is a court proceeding which sometimes must be followed in order to administer the estate.

First steps: The first steps in estate administration are as follows:

1. Secure the tangible personal property. Change the locks on the decedent’s home and inventory the personal property. Bring a witness and video each room. Disputes over personal items can become very contentious even if they have only sentimental value.

2. Make a list of deadlines with your lawyer’s assistance. There are many deadlines depending on the type of assets involved.

3. Do not transfer or distribute assets or pay any estate liabilities before consulting with an estate administration attorney. Such transfers can be very costly in taxes, both income taxes and estate taxes.

4. Disclose. Even if you are not required to do so, it is a good idea to keep family members informed. Silence breeds suspicion and this can lead to needless and wasteful litigation.

Make an appointment to see us by calling 847-674-0200. We will send you a list of items to bring with you to the initial meeting. You can begin by creating an inventory of everything that may pass by reason of the decedent’s death. As to each item try to find out: Title (individual, joint, living trust, etc.) Type of asset (life insurance, bank account, real estate, retirement account etc.); Institution holding the asset; Approximate value of the asset; Name of the beneficiary on the account, if any.