Handling the estate of a loved one is time-consuming. You will likely have to commit many weeks of effort over the course of a year or even more.
Some of the steps that you take early in the process are among the most important to protect yourself as the representative of the estate. The three steps below are all crucial in the first months after someone dies.
Locate and file their will or estate plan with the courts
One of the most important early steps in estate administration involves locating the estate plan, last will or trust documents. You will likely need to file paperwork with the courts to initiate probate proceedings and assume official authority as the representative of the estate.
Secure the biggest assets from the estate
If a person who died owned valuable items like jewelry, fine art or real estate, you will need to act quickly to locate and secure these valuable assets. Everything from physical items to ownership paperwork could be vulnerable to theft either by strangers who target properties owned by the recently deceased or family members who want more than their fair share from the estate.
Securing property may mean changing the locks on the house, hiring someone to physically maintain the property or moving small but valuable assets to a secure location where other people cannot access them.
Review financial records and notify creditors
One of the biggest liabilities of estate administration is the risk of unpaid debts. As the representative of the estate, you might be liable for some unpaid debt if you distribute assets from the estate without properly notifying and repaying creditors. Reviewing paperwork to determine the financial status of the deceased and notifying creditors in a timely manner will help you limit your personal liability.
Taking the right steps during estate administration helps protect you and streamline the entire probate process.