Being chosen to administer a will can seem like an honor. After all, someone has entrusted you with overseeing their estate.

You may discover, however, that you are carrying a heavy burden. Serving as an executor can be complicated and time-consuming.

Your first steps

As an executor, you begin your work right away. The first step is locating the original will to begin the probate process. If it is in a safe deposit box, you need a court order to open it. An attorney may have it. Or it could be in a home filing cabinet.

You also need access to the home of the deceased so you can secure valuables, collect mail, and so on. This can call for the presence of a marshal. You should cancel credit cards and dispose of prescription medications, as well.

You may incur some out-of-pocket expenses along the way, such as when obtaining copies of the death certificate. You can receive reimbursement later, but only if you keep detailed records.

Your next steps

Clearing the initial hurdles may be relatively simple compared to some of the duties still ahead of you:

  • Gathering financial records
  • Collecting assets of the estate
  • Liquidating and selling property
  • Paying off creditors and taxes
  • Making an accounting of assets and expenses
  • Preparing a final inventory for the court

Probate is difficult, to say the least. Making a mistake is easy. Unless you have keen insight into the legal process, your missteps can cost time and money.

The most important steps

You are taking care of all the financial matters on behalf of the deceased. In the meantime, you are in mourning and trying to deal with your own day-to-day tasks.

It is a balancing act as you also do what you can to honor the wishes of the deceased and take care of the beneficiaries. Prepare yourself ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute.

William A. Johnson, P.A., is located in Melbourne, Florida. We serve clients throughout Brevard County.