Primary Goal of this Step
Make sure you settle the estate, pay taxes, and distribute the deceased’s property and assets in accordance with the law.
Important Tasks: Settle the Estate: Wrap Up Financial & Legal Affairs
Locate the will, determine who the beneficiaries are, and take an inventory of the estate
Put together a list of all the people who are named in the will as beneficiaries, everything that the person who died owned, and all the people, organizations, or companies that the person who died owed money to.
Submit the will to probate
You will likely want to hire a trust and estate attorney to help you manage the probate process. As every state has different rules for when and how the will must be filed with the Probate Court, an attorney can help you make sure that you’re complying with your state’s legal requirements.
Pay final bills, dues, and estate expenses
Be sure to stay on top of paying ongoing bills, such as rent, mortgages, insurance, and utilities. Final bills, such as taxes, credit card bills, and medical bills, should only be paid by the executor using money from the estate once probate has concluded. You may want to hire an accountant to help you with these tasks.
After probate, distribute assets
Once the will has been probated, the executor will be granted “Letters Testamentary” or “Letters of Administration,” which will authorize him or her to execute the will. At this point, the executor must distribute assets in accordance with the terms of the will. It may be helpful to work with an attorney and an accountant when distributing an estate’s assets in order to minimize taxes and make sure everything you’re doing is legally sound.