Getting prepared if you are a Successor Trustee, Executrix, Executor, or personal representative or administrator for a Will   

This will be completed in a 4 part series, remember to get with the Accountant, CPA, Trust Attorney or Tax Attorney for specific guidance

Part 1

If a loved one or good friend has passed away, you have the difficult task of mourning and preparing for the estate issues. I would like to present several blog posts to help you think about some things necessary to move the process forward. Most will seem basic, but when dealing with the emotional status of the passing of a loved one or a friend, sometimes the little things can get overlooked.

  1. Find an original signature of the will, trust or personal declaration, and read the document
  2. Contact the original developer of the document if it was an attorney, accountant or friend. Make sure that you get copies of all their notes when the document was developed. Talk with the Accountant and Attorney for guidance on the process and the wishes of the estate.
  3. When at the funeral home planning, if you were told to get 10 copies of the death certificate I would ask for 20, if 20, then 40. You get the gist. The primary reason is that depending upon the complexity of the estate will decide on how many certificates you need. Always order more in the beginning than you think you need, it is much easier to order the higher number now, then finding out once into the process that you are going to need more. It slows down the process, sometimes stopping the process all together until you get the additional certificates. Ordering more now will save time and money in the future.
  4. Also, remember that you have a fiduciary (legal) responsibility to the estate, and the beneficiaries, so make sure that you get a spiral notebook and start taking notes, inventory all the assets and log all your time spent on the estate. In certain circumstances, you are entitled to a reasonable compensation to complete work for the estate, the banks and attorneys do and so can you. But only if you keep a good responsible log and get direction from an attorney or accountant. Also, keep in mind the beneficiaries have no business trying to acquire things from the estate until the estate has been reviewed and all the processes have been completed. Once you are done with your job, then the dissemination of property and assets can begin. But not until then. This is not a nice thing to say, but once assets and money are involved, relatives can begin to act in ways that you have not seen before, so be prepared and be aware.
  5. Get the estate checkbook set up with you authorized to sign for the estate and make sure the bank knows about the death, bring in the certificate of death and the Trust or Will identifying you as the authorized representative. You want to keep a log of all expenses and you want the checks and release of money to come from the estate. Get with the accountant and/or attorney on this item.


Part 2 will cover going through the belongings and keepsakes,

Part 3 will cover ordering an appraisal,

Part 4 selling the assets.