One of the very first responsibilities of the executor is to notify the funeral home, insurance company, the deceased’s attorney, etc. of the passing. Soon after, you’ll need to begin to compile an inventory of everything he or she owned. If the deceased only owned a single-family home or lived in an apartment, this may be a relatively easy task. But in some cases — for example, when multiple homes and properties are owned — this can be an exceptionally difficult and time-consuming process. Regardless of the situation, this inventory of assets must be submitted to the county’s surrogate court in timely fashion, typically within a six-month period.
It is also the responsibility of the executor to secure the assets of the deceased. For starters, new locks should be installed on all properties, and the addition of an alarm system should be considered. A phone call to your local police station to inform them of the situation regarding the property is also a good practice.
You’ll also want to make sure the property is prepared for the weather at hand. Does it need to be winterized? The last thing you’ll want to deal with is a case of frozen pipes!
Also, did the deceased leave a will? Unfortunately, not everyone does, and this can easily add months (if not years) to the probate and disposition period.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, an estate attorney can help make the process much easier. But, just like selecting a tutor for your child or a wedding photographer to capture your big day, you’ll want to first make sure the estate attorney is someone you will be comfortable working and communicating with over a long period of time.
The role of the executor is vital and it should be taken very seriously. Think of it as the ultimate and final favor for someone who placed your trust second to none.