How to Be Named the Executor of an Estate After a Death

by Kimberlee Leonard ; Updated July 27, 2017

Items you will need

  • Death certificate
  • Last will and testament (if existing)

An executor, sometimes calls an administrator, is assigned to the estate after a person dies. The role of the executor is to appropriately close the estate, gathering assets and debts, notifying legitimate heirs and paying any taxes and fees associated with closing an estate. Even if a legitimate last will and testament names you as the executor of the estate, approval of the probate court trustee is required before you can proceed with settling the estate.

Step 1

Obtain a death certificate from the county record's division, morgue or hospital where the deceased was pronounced dead.

Step 2

Locate the original copy of the last will and testament if one exists. Check home desks, file cabinets or safe deposit boxes. Note that the deceased's bank will not authorize you to look into the deceased's bank accounts unless you have a death certificate.

Step 3

Read the last will and testament to see if an executor is named. You can still petition to be the executor if there is no will or no executor is named.

Step 4

Go to the probate court division at the courthouse in the county where the deceased resided prior to death.

Step 5

Obtain the proper petition to be assigned as estate administrator. Each county uses different forms and has its own protocol and fee schedule. Check with the clerk for the proper forms and fees in your county.

Step 6

Complete the petition and file it with the clerk. Include a copy of the will if it exists. Obtain a hearing date to confirm yourself as the executor.

Step 7

Notify all known beneficiaries in writing and next of kin about the death, your petition and the hearing date.

Step 8

Attend the confirmation hearing and deal with any objections to your appointment if they arise. Obtain the court appointment or certificate -- the appointment is required to proceed with gathering and liquidating assets.

About the Author

With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.