Top seven tips for executors

Preparing to be the executor of an estate can be an intimidating and mammoth task and those unprepared can easily find themselves daunted. 

Lawpack's Executor's Guide is an essential must-have that will take you through the most important aspects of the job. Additionally, we've provided the top-seven tips to keep in mind as you fulfil your role as executor. 

1. Make sure that you file the documents away in an orderly fashion

Ensuring that the documents are ready to hand and exactly where you need them, when you need them is the first and perhaps most important step. To the uninitiated and those without the help of Lawpack's solicitor approved Executor's Guide, this is an easily overlooked measure.

Come to an understanding with the testator (the person whose estate you will be handling) that they store the paperwork, such as the original will, any deeds, partnership documents and insurance policies, in an agreed place.

This location can be almost anywhere, such as the testator's home, a lock box or a safe, so long as it is secure and unlikely to be moved.

Additionally, copies can be held directly by you or filed at the offices of lawyers.

2. Ensure that key pieces of property and accounts are jointly available

If the testator has a spouse or romantic partner, he or she will benefit from a smooth flow of assets if all bank accounts, insurance policies and properties are made jointly accessible.

The Executor's Guide can help you through this process and once complete, it will greatly reduce the size of the estate you will have to manage once the testator has died.

It is also a good idea to make sure that relevant accounts are linked for any possible business partners the testator has.

A list of people and accounts should be drawn up with the testator and revised if he or she gets divorced, remarried or outlives a child.

3. Make a record of preferences

As difficult as it may be, try to speak with the testator about any funeral requirements they may have.

Will it be a religious ceremony or a humanist service? Does the testator want to be buried or cremated?

These are tough questions that could become points of argument after the individual passes away, which is why it is important to have it all in writing.

4. Assign personal effects to specific recipients

It is important to work with the testator to decide how sentimental items of little monetary worth should be distributed.

These items are often overlooked and can be difficult to sort out after the testator's death.

With emotions running high, sentimental items can be a source of conflict among the bereaved. Ensuring that recipients are clearly named can save a lot of aggravation and time.

Lawpack's executor's guide can provide information on dealing with assets, including the deceased's property, gifts and legacies.

5. Arrange yearly reviews and amend documents

A lot can happen in a year, so keeping all arrangements and agreements up to date is vital to maintain a clear sense of how the assets should be distributed.

Following the advice set out in the Executor's Guide, people can update vital information concerning inheritance, funeral wishes and business obligations.

You can also use computers or even smartphones to keep track of any possessions which have changed hands, been stolen or damaged and amend the documents as needed.

6. Keep track of the testator's online identity

Increasingly we live our lives in the digital space, so when someone dies the executor needs to have access to a variety of accounts the person may have held online.

These could be online banking sites, such as Paypal, auction sites like eBay and social networking pages like Facebook and Twitter.

Even email accounts will need to be accessed and respectfully handled by the executor.

7. Consult professionals

Lawpack's Executor's Guide has been written by professionals to help you through each step of becoming and fulfilling the role of an executor.

However, even the best guide and all the preparation in the world cannot beat speaking with a professional solicitor and accountant.

Additionally, you should make contact with the testator's hired professionals so that they know who to make arrangements with once their client has passed away.  ADNFCR-1645-ID-800694888-ADNFCR

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Published on: August 10, 2011

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