Estate administration can feel like an overwhelming task that might take a year or longer for you as an executor to complete. Instead of viewing the process as an interminable series of responsibilities and stressors, you might benefit from breaking it down into a series of smaller, simpler steps.
When viewed from a macro perspective, the estate administration process is manageable, even if you continue to work full-time while handling the estate. What are the first steps that you will need to take to adequately fulfill your role as an executor?
Locate and file the will or estate plan
If you already know you are the executor, then you may have a copy of the estate plan or will in your possession. Otherwise, you may have received notice from the attorney representing the testator advising you of your role in their estate. You will need to go over the estate plan or will yourself and file a copy of it with the Florida probate courts.
Secure the personal property of the deceased
Sometimes, you may need to change the locks on a property and add timed lights to make it look inhabited if no one else will live there after the death. Other times, you may need to remove certain assets from the property so that you can secure them elsewhere.
Even people whom you know and trust, like family members, might try stealing assets if they think they can get away with it. Securing the most valuable property and documents is a very important step early in the estate administration process.
Begin notifying creditors and other companies
Everyone from credit card companies to the electricity service provider will need information about their death so that you can settle the accounts. You will likely have to provide copies of the death certificate and may need to make multiple communications for each account. The sooner you start the process, the sooner there are no longer open accounts in the name of the deceased.
Sometimes the circumstances necessitate changing the order in which you handle things. Discussing the estate and its assets with a lawyer can help you prioritize the most important steps in the estate administration.