If you are a named Personal Representative (or Executor) in someone’s Will, the following steps can make your job easier during the administration of your friend or relative’s estate:
1) Be sure you know where the original copy of the Will is located. We always recommend the Testator (the person who has the Will) keep the original copy in a safe deposit box. However, as the Personal Representative, you should be authorized to access the safe deposit box and know where the Testator’s key is located.
2) Know the Testator’s wishes for the disposition of his or her body beforehand. The Testator’s preference for burial or cremation is usually indicated in his or her Will. Yet, neither you nor the Testator’s relatives may review the will until after the funeral and internment. If the Testator had specific wishes, they may not have been properly carried out.
3) If the Testator has a large family, have him or her create a list of all the relatives and their relationships to one another - included names, addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates. In cases where the Testator has more than two or three siblings (especially if any of them are deceased and have several children themselves), there can be significant delay in administering the estate if each heir’s name, address, and relationship to the Testator are unknown.
4) Keep records of any expenditure you make prior to opening the Testator’s estate account. Personal Representatives may reimburse themselves for any expenses they make on behalf of the estate, but they cannot do so (nor can they distribute any property) until the Letters Testamentary have been issued.
5) Set aside funds for unforeseen expenses after making disbursements to the beneficiaries. There may be legal fees involved to close the estate, so it is much easier to have this money set aside beforehand.
Obviously, there are many other aspects and considerations to make when administering an estate. Yet with a small amount of pre-planning on your part, the administration can be handled in a smooth and efficient manner.
This information is for general information purposes only. Please call our Cumming, Georgia law firm for information on how we can help you administer a loved one’s estate.