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What You Need To Know About Executing a Will

Posted on Mon Jun 10, 2019, on Probate and Estate Administration

What You Need To Know About Executing a Will

You may think that being the executor of a will means gathering the decedent’s assets and distributing them to heirs and beneficiaries. These are, indeed, a big part of an executor’s responsibilities, but there is much more. As the executor of a will, you are responsible for settling the decedent’s outstanding debts and closing his or her accounts. Furthermore, you manage the beneficiaries’ expectations, field complex tax questions, and are the recipient of all government inquiries.  Let’s talk about What You Need To Know About Executing a Will.

 

Probate Attorney Kelly Barse

When regarded all at once, executing a will seems like an overwhelmingly enormous process. However, we like to break the process down. Segmenting this long process makes it more manageable.  With a little help, you will find the process logical.

1. Obtain the Death Certificate With Multiple Copies.

An original death certificate is necessary to file taxes on behalf of the decedent, to transfer ownership of significant assets, and to unlock annuities or life insurance benefits for the beneficiaries. While some agencies may allow you to submit a photocopy, others will require a certified copy of the death certificate. Therefore, obtain more than one. There is a fee associated with obtaining multiple copies of a certified death certificate, but prices vary by jurisdiction.  Get one for each use you foresee, plus some extras.

2. Locate and Gather Documents

The most apparent document you need to locate is the decedent’s will. Additionally, you’ll need to find tax documents, property deeds, insurance policies, credit card statements, etc. Another crucial document to locate is the decedent’s Social Security card. Hopefully, the decedent informed you of the location(s) of these documents before his or her death.  Our firm’s clients have a portal storing this data. We can then quickly provide the executor with the necessary data. What You Need To Know About Executing a Will: don’t miss any assets!

3. Take Inventory

Wills often include names, but no information about specific investments. Carefully document all information about assets.

4. File The Will

Some states have a Register of Wills, others have Surrogates, and some have a specific court for Wills. If the decedent had real estate in different states, the executor must file the will in each state. 

5. Notify Heirs

Follow the local rules.  Some counties require the executor notifies only the people named in the will, while others require notifying members even if excluded. Your Probate Lawyer will help make sure you don’t make a mistake, which could delay the process.

6. Settle All Accounts

The executor files the decedent’s final income taxes pays the decedent’s debts and closes accounts. 

7. Making Final Distributions (After Obtaining a Release!)

Don’t distribute any assets without first getting a release!

Remember, an estate never “closes.” You are the executor forever.  If you find one of the decedent’s accounts 20 years later, you are still the executor and collect that money. Therefore, if you don’t get a release from the beneficiaries, they can also file complaints against your years later. Our Probate Attorneys are very good at getting binding releases from the heirs.  What You Need To Know About Executing a Will: Don’t get yourself into trouble!

For more detailed information, follow this link to my article about The Probate Process.

What You Need To Know About Executing a Will:

The entire process can take six months to a year. It can be difficult, but you do not have to handle it alone. Our Probate Lawyers can help guide you. Attorneys may be able to guide you through the process.

If you have started the process, but now the heirs threaten you with litigation?  We can help! Contact a will contest law firm in Philadelphia, PA, for more information.

What You Need To Know About Executing a Will

Contact Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and executing a will.

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Probate, Probate Lawyer

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I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link for a question regarding a will. While I was expecting only a few minutes, it was a lengthy conversation. He made sure he understood the situation by asking many questions before offering advice. He then went through my options and results of each one. He left it up to me to decide if I wanted to proceed and did not push me toward one or another. His website has very useful information which I definitely researched before I called him. While I decided not to proceed at this time, I feel I had enough information to make that decision. I would not hesitate to hire him should I need to in the future.

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We recently used Peter's firm to update our wills and trusts. We found he and his staff to be well-informed, professional and highly efficient. And equally valuable, Peter explains the law in terms that a layperson can readily understand.

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