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Tasks for an estate executor

Being named as an estate executor can feel a bit intimidating. It's an important job and a lot of people are counting on you to do it correctly. You may also have a lot of money on the line, especially if you are both the executor and a beneficiary.

In general, the executor is the person who helps administer the estate and who ensures that what is written in the will and the other estate planning documents is actually carried out. To help you get started, here are a few things you need to do:

  • Get the death certificate. There are some tasks you cannot fulfill without legal proof of the person's passing, and the death certificate gives you that proof.
  • Obtain a valid copy of the will. Remember that the most recent will is the one that counts. Once you have it, you need to distribute copies to the others who are named as beneficiaries. Will readings don't happen as often anymore; instead, people just get their own copies.
  • Find all of the assets in the will. Make sure no one else takes them until you determine who is supposed to get them.

This last step can be hard. The will may leave a piece of artwork to one heir when another heir had their eye on it, for instance. Do not let anyone remove anything from the home or the estate on their own. That's your job.

As you work your way through all of this, make sure you know exactly what legal steps you need to take.

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