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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Timeline of estate administration, Part I

If you are newly appointed as the administrator of an estate, it can be confusing knowing what needs to be done when. Below is is a list of the duties you will be responsible for performing and the approximate time you will need to do them.

Immediately after the death of the decedent, you will need to:

-- Arrange to donate the decedent's organs, if that was their intention.

-- Make provisions for the care of any children, pets or other dependents.

-- Plan the memorial service, cremation or funeral.

-- Locate and secure the assets, including the home and its contents, personal property of the decedent, vehicles, perishables, additional real estate and safety deposit boxes.

-- Review decedent's will with a lawyer.

-- Arrange for vacant properties to be insured.

Shortly following the death of the decedent, you should:

-- Notify landlords, property managers and service providers that decedent has died.

-- Finish paying for funeral and other final expenses.

-- Catalog ongoing debts and expenses.

-- Cancel debit and credit cards, subscriptions, memberships, health care policies, entertainment, e.g., satellite TV, cable and internet, landline and cellphone service and car insurance.

-- Arrange for mail to be forwarded.

-- Notify banks, brokerages and other financial institutions of the death.

-- Gather documents reflecting assets like investment portfolios, leases and mortgages.

-- Review documents detailing legal obligations, like spousal support and child support orders, contracts and court documents.

As the weeks unfold after the death, some of the activity will die down, but there are still many matters requiring your attention. These might include the following:

-- Developing and implementing plans for the management of assets until the time that they are sold or distributed to the heirs.

-- Arrange for assets to be transferred out of decedent's name and into the estate.

-- Pay off debts.

-- Valuate assets and inventory liabilities and assets.

-- Obtain probate.

If this all seems to be overwhelming to you, an estate administration lawyer can assist you with many of the tasks you need to complete.

Source: Retire Happy, "Duties of an executor – an executor’s checklist," Jim Yih, accessed July 15, 2016

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