The executor of an estate is responsible for handling the final financial and legal affairs of the deceased person. Estate executor responsibilities may vary somewhat according to state law and based on the nature and size of the estate. Seeking legal advice on the specifics of executing an estate is advisable.
File the Will and Deal With Probate
If the deceased has a will, you generally need to file it in probate court, even if a probate proceeding is not necessary. You (with legal help) also need to determine if probate court proceedings are required and, if so, deal with the probate. For example, during probate you must officially notify creditors of the deceased, following the procedure specified in state law.
Notify Concerned Parties
You need to deal with terminating leases, credit cards and any other legal obligations of the deceased. You also need to let banks and government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, post office, Medicare and Department of Veterans Affairs, know about the death.
Find and Manage Assets
You need to find the deceased person's assets and manage them until they are distributed to inheritors. You also need to set up an estate bank account for money owed to the deceased person, such as paychecks or stock dividends. You will use estate funds to pay continuing expenses, such as utility bills and mortgage payments, to pay for the funeral, to pay debts and to pay final taxes (including filing a final tax return for the deceased).
After all the assets are found, the debts are paid and probate is complete, you supervise the distribution of the deceased person's property, according to the directions of the will or, if the person died without a will, the mandate of state law.