3 tips to follow as an executor of an estate

If you have accepted the role of executor of an estate, you might feel a mixture of honor and stress. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the process, as administering an estate is a lofty responsibility. Taking some simple proactive steps to properly manage the assets will help you avoid any pitfalls, suspicion from beneficiaries and probate litigation.

You do not have to feel overwhelmed or like you are going it alone. Here are some tips to make your role as executor easier to handle.

1. Make a copy of the will

If there is only one copy of the will, make sure to photocopy one for personal reference. You will need to submit the will to the probate court, and you might need to consistently reference its instructions. Once you make a copy for personal use, clearly mark it to differentiate it from the original.

2. Request extra death certificates

One of your first duties as executor is sending copies of the death certificate to various places, including:

  • Banks
  • Social Security Administration
  • Post office

Order several copies of the death certificate to make sure you have enough on hand.

3. Prepare taxes

You are responsible for paying final estate tax bills and any taxes owed on any property. Obtain copies of the most recent tax returns from the estate and keep track of deductible expenses, such as medical bills. If you are administering an estate with complex assets and a significant tax burden, you might want to hire an accountant for help.

Following these simple steps will take a little stress off your shoulders as you manage the estate and disburse assets. Do not be afraid to enlist professional help if you are dealing with a lot of questions or the estate is especially complex. Consider talking to an estate planning attorney to ensure you are following every step of the process correctly.