The death of a loved one is never an easy time. Even if the death was expected, a period of grief follows for those who were close to the deceased. Along with the emotional impact a death has on the family there are a number of practical and legal issues that must be handled by the family. First among those is the probate of the decedent’s estate. If the decedent left behind a Last Will and Testament, the individual named as the Executor in the Will must immediately initiate the probate process. Although it is always wise to inform an individual Executor ahead of time of the intention to appoint him or her to the position, sometimes people fail to do so. Understandably, this can lead to concern and confusion on the part of the Executor. If you just found out that you are the Executor of your deceased uncle’s estate, for example, what do you do now?
Although every estate is unique, there are some common steps that should immediately be taken if you just found out you were named as the Executor, including:
- Accept or decline the position. You are not required to accept the position of Executor. Moreover, the court is not required to accept your appointment. If you do not want the responsibility, simply let the court know and someone else will be appointed.
- Review the Will. If you do decide to accept the appointment, you need to get ahold of the original Last Will and Testament document and read through it in its entirety.
- Consult with an estate planning attorney. Mistakes made during the probate of an estate can cost the estate a significant amount in terms of time and money. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney dramatically decreases the possibility of making a costly mistake.
- Secure assets. Known assets should be secured immediately. The decedent’s home, for example, should be locked up considered “off limits”, unless family members are living there of course. Financial institutions should be made aware of the death and accounts frozen.
- Inventory and value assets. Get a general idea of the size of the estate and the type of assets owned by the decedent. Also, a ballpark value for those assets is needed to determine what type of probate is required.
- Open probate. Prepare and file the documents required to officially open the probate of the decedent’s estate. If you retain an estate planning attorney he or she will prepare all the documents for you and make sure everything that needs to be filed is filed in a timely manner.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the role of Executor in the probate process, 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.