This overall guide is designed to help you understand your executor responsibilities and to get the most out of EstateExec. If you haven’t already read the Introduction, you might want to do that now. Then click your browser’s Back button, and continue with the rest of this Getting Started section.
An estate executor is someone legally responsible for winding down and distributing a deceased person’s estate. Some states refer to the executor as the “Personal Representative”, or the “Administrator”, and if the deceased person had established a trust, you will instead be the “Trustee”. To keep things simple, EstateExec just refers to all of these roles as the “Executor”.
Serving as an estate executor can be challenging, and for many of us, it will be the first (and only) time we do it. EstateExec is designed to help you make the process as painless and as simple as possible. Think of EstateExec™ for estate disposition as Quicken® is for personal finance management. It can’t do it for you, but it can provide great assistance.
There are some things you likely need to do right away:
Arrange the funeral
Order death certificates
Locate a copy of the will
Consider contacting a lawyer
And more… (see First Week)
Longer term, it’s not uncommon for the entire process to last 6-18 months: some things just take time (while you wait). You also need to be careful about calendar year-end, with respect to various legal and tax filings.
Understanding the Big Picture
Fundamentally, it is the executor’s job to manage and wind down the deceased person’s estate, reviewing the will, resolving any debts, distributing assets to heirs, and filing legal paperwork. A somewhat simplified view of the overall process is:
Arrange Funeral — Burial or cremation, memorial, etc.
Send Notifications — Friends and family, social security, credit cards, etc.
Take Inventory — Estate assets and debts
Plan Asset Disposition — Sell or assign to heirs
Resolve Debts — Payment in full, debt forgiveness
File Taxes — Decedent income, estate income, inheritance, etc.
Distribute Estate Proceeds — Finalize the estate settlement
At multiple stages, along the way, you may have to file some legal and tax paperwork, and while EstateExec will supply relevant information, you may find it helpful to work together with a lawyer.
Like so many things in life, being an executor can become an all-consuming activity if you let it. While individual circumstances may sometimes require significant effort, it is EstateExec’s job to try to minimize that effort, to help you through the basic process, and to organize the relevant information to make it easier for you and everyone involved.