When a family member or close loved one dies it is usually followed by a period of grief and heightened emotions. The last thing most people want to do is think about the practical and legal ramifications of the decedent’s death. The reality though is that there are practical and legal ramifications when someone dies, starting with the need to probate the estate. If you are appointed to be the Personal Representative of the estate you will have to put aside your grief, to the extent possible, in order to focus on the duties and responsibilities of the position to which you were appointed. What, however, do you do after being appointed personal representative of an estate?
Unless you have served as an Executor or Personal Representative before you may feel a bit intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of fulfilling the role for the first time. Unfortunately, there is no instruction book that comes with the appointment. The best way to ensure you do not miss a step or fail to perform an important part of your duties is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney right away. If, for any reason, you cannot do that immediately, the following list may help you get started with some of the most common steps taken by a PR at the beginning of the probate process.
- ·Locate all estate planning documents, such as the decedent’s Last Will and Testament (which you should already have submitted to the court), life insurance policies, trust agreements, Letter of Instructions, funeral plans etc.
- ·Obtain a tax identification number for the estate
- ·Open a bank account for the estate to be used for profits from the sale of estate assets, if necessary.
- ·Make a list of all known assets and start to secure those assets immediately. You then need to start the valuation process because you must have a “date of Death” (DOD) value for all estate assets. The method used to obtain a DOD value will depend on the type of assets involved.
- ·Make a list of all known creditors and the approximate amount owed. This will include the lender for a mortgage, bank for car payments, and other similar creditors.
- ·Make a list of beneficiaries and their contact information if the decedent left behind a Last Will and Testament. In the absence of a Will, make a list of all known heirs and their current location (if known) to provide to the court.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the duties and responsibilities of a Personal Representative, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Saul Kobrick, P.C. by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.