When you are the executor of an estate, you must go through a series of steps to eventually finalize the process and dispose of all of the deceased individual's property. During this process, you must pay any outstanding debts, sell property and distribute some to the beneficiaries of the estate. Dealing with an estate could take several months or years, depending on the complexity of the estate and the amount of property that the person had.
File a Petition of Probate
Begin the probate process for the individual who passed away. Take the will to the local probate court and file for a petition of probate. You will need to appear in front of the probate judge so that he can validate the will. At that point, the judge will provide you with the power to oversee the distribution of the estate. You will be sworn in to make sure that you take your responsibility seriously and handle it to the best of your ability.
Alert the Public
Publish a notice in the newspaper that says the estate is being finalized. This alerts creditors that they need to file a claim for any outstanding debts against the deceased individual. The creditors will need to put claims in if they want to get paid on these debts. Once the claims have been filed, you can pay them with assets from the estate.
Make a List of Assets
Take an inventory of the assets of the estate. Before you can accurately get rid of all of the property, you must know exactly how much property is involved in the estate. You may need to combine accounts so that you can have a central account to pay debts with.
Distribute the Assets
Distribute the assets that are named in the will of the deceased individual, which may include specific pieces of property to be distributed to beneficiaries. For example, the house may need to go to one person and the car go to another. Transfer the titles to these individuals and then allow them to take possession. Move any other property to the appropriate owner.
Sell the Remaining Assets
Sell any property that was not specifically designated in the will. Some property may also be left over because beneficiaries did not want it. In this case, you can hold an estate sale and get rid of all of the extra property. Any money that you generate should go to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Gift Any Leftover Assets
Give away any property that is left over after the estate sale. Once you have, make sure that none of the beneficiaries want the property, you are free to give it away or throw it away.
- NOLO: What Does an Executor Do?
- Angie's list: 7 Ways to Liquidate an Estate
- Bankrate: How to Sell Your Late Parents' Possessions
- Illinois.gov “200.00 Will Contest,” Pages 2-6. Accessed July 9, 2020.
- The New York State Senate. “Section 1802 Effect of Failure to Present Claim.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- Texas.gov. “Title 2. Estates of Decedents; Durable Powers of Attorney.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Section 3-803: Limitations on Presentation of Claims.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- IRS. “Frequently Asked Questions on Estate Taxes.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- IRS. “Estate Tax.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- Tax Foundation. “Does Your State Have an Estate or Inheritance Tax?” Accessed July 9, 2020.
- County of Alameda - Superior Court of California. “Probate Court.” Accessed July 9, 2020.
Luke Arthur has been writing professionally since 2004 on a number of different subjects. In addition to writing informative articles, he published a book, "Modern Day Parables," in 2008. Arthur holds a Bachelor of Science in business from Missouri State University.