It goes without saying that the loss of a friend or family member can be a very emotional experience. Being left to serve as executor for the deceased can make the situation even more difficult to bare.

The executor has many responsibilities, including settling debts, liquefying assets and overseeing the distribution of proceeds from the estate to the appropriate beneficiaries. Additionally, the law requires the executor to secure all assets and safeguard the deceased individual’s property and belongings. The entire process can take several months to complete.

Here are some tips for executors as they begin to fulfill their promise to their loved one:

• Verify that all necessary utilities such as gas, electric and water remain in service, as well as household services such as snow plowing or lawn maintenance.

• Ensure that the property looks occupied by placing timers on lights. Adding a security sticker or sign on the property may help deter burglars.

• Photograph or take a video of each room in the house for both records and reference.

• Make arrangements for mail to be forwarded and newspapers to be cancelled. The U.S. Postal Service will forward mail for up to one year.

A few early actions will help the entire process run as smooth as possible. Also, be sure to remain in contact with the estate attorney, especially if you have any questions or concerns.