If your loved one or relative has just passed away, you may have been tasked with the job of becoming the executor of their estate. Although many people consider it an honor to be able to help your friend one last time, it can also often feel like a mission you can’t accomplish and one that you’re not set up to succeed in. In a time of grief and mourning, it is hard to go on with your daily life, let alone think your way through filing a will and notifying beneficiaries.
Your first step in the process may be deciding if you require help from a lawyer. Many people choose to hire a lawyer, but it’s important to think about your situation and how difficult the task will be for you. Consider the size of the estate and how complicated the deceased’s finances are when you’re deciding whether a lawyer’s help will be necessary. Depending on your situation, your lawyer can usually help you through the process by providing advice and passing along wisdom, or he or she can be hired to simply take care of the whole situation. In the latter case, your lawyer will usually be paid out of what’s left in the estate.
It’s also important during this time is deciding if probate is necessary. For more information on the probate process, see our previous blogs- Common FAQs About the Probate Process in Washington- Part 1 and FAQs About the Probate Process in Washington- Part 2. Keep in mind that Washington is a non-UPC (Uniform Probate Code) state and the probate process in the state you’re working in may be different. Although no estate is the same, it’s important to know what your process should look like and it may be a good idea to check with a probate lawyer for advice.
If you believe that the job may be particularly complex or if you live far away from the deceased, it can be confusing to figure out just what needs done and if it has been done correctly. A few of the tasks you’ll need to complete as executor of the will including:
- notifying beneficiaries,
- securing and managing the deceased’s assets,
- taking care of whatever is necessary on a daily basis (this can include contacting banks, landlords, the post office, etc. to let them know what happened),
- setting up a bank account for the estate,
- continuing to pay bills, debts, mortgage payments, income tax, etc. and notify creditors,
- distribute money, belongings, real estate, and anything else specified in the will,
- and finally closing the estate through the probate court.
We at Lyons | Sullivan know that choosing whether or not to be an executor of your loved one’s will is a difficult decision. Our team is well-versed in probate and trust administration. We counsel fiduciaries to properly assist personal representatives and trustees respectively. If you feel that you need help with this often difficult process, contact us today and we’ll gladly advise you or provide the help you need.