You've Been Named Executor, Now What?

You've Been Named Executor, Now What?

June 28, 2019

While both an honor and a big responsibility, protecting and distributing someone’s property can be an overwhelming task. The following lists can help you plan and keep track of the many tasks and documents involved in settling an estate. Be sure to note the dates that you complete each task and any follow-up actions you may need to take. As always, work with qualified professionals to aid you in this process.

Key Contacts:

Gather the names and contact information of the following key contacts.

  • Financial Professional
  • CPA/Accountant
  • Life, Health and Property and Insurance Representative
  • Attorney

Key Actions:

  • Find the will. You may need to contact the deceased’s attorney
  • Submit the will to local probate court
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS to identify the deceased’s estate accounts during the account transfer and estate settlement process
  • Appraise assets, if needed
  • Arrange to publish a “notice of probate” in local newspapers to give creditors and beneficiaries public notice of the deceased’s death and the appointment of the personal representative
  • Determine whether probate proceedings are needed
  • If probate, conduct the proceedings or hire a lawyer to conduct proceedings
  • If there is a Living Trust, work with the trustee for paying bills, property management, and other miscellaneous tasks
  • Designate guardians for minors, if necessary
  • Designate a conservator (for collecting and managing a minor child’s inheritance)
  • Protect/Manage assets until distributed to beneficiaries
  • Collect money owed to the estate (e.g., wages, insurance benefits, rent, etc.)
  • Pay bills
  • File final income tax returns for the deceased
  • File estate taxes, if necessary
  • Distribute assets

Documents Needed

  • Bank statements
  • Birth certificates for both the deceased and minor children
  • Brokerage account statements and investment records
  • Business co-ownership agreements
  • Checkbook(s)
  • Child support documents
  • Credit card statements (look for auto pay items on each statement—this can be a very helpful source of information)
  • Disability-related documents
  • Divorce papers (including property and other settlement agreements)
  • Form W-2 showing wages for the current year
  • Health insurance policies, statements, or bills
  • Immigration and citizenship documents
  • Life insurance policies and premium payment records
  • Marriage license/certificate
  • Military service records, including branch, dates of service, discharge, or “separation” papers
  • Pension records
  • Prenuptial agreement
  • Real estate deeds and tax records
  • Registration papers for vehicles or boats
  • Retirement account statements
  • Social Security records
  • Workers’ Compensation paperwork

Businesses and Agencies to Notify *Notify within one month

  • Charities
  • Doctors or other health care providers
  • Current employer
  • Former employers
  • Insurance company(ies)
  • Landlord and/or tenants
  • Membership organizations (e.g., country clubs, alumni associations, and social groups)
  • Newspaper and magazine subscription offices
  • Pension payers
  • Service providers (e.g., landscapers, trash haulers, etc.)
  • Social Security Administration
  • State health/welfare departments
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Volunteer groups
  • Internet service provider
  • E-mail and/or social networking providers
  • Religious/spiritual advisor
  • Off-site storage facilities
  • Bank(s)*
  • Credit card companies*
  • Inheritors and beneficiaries*
  • Investment firms*
  • Post Office*
  • Utility companies*


Core content sourced from NEW YORK LIFE MAINSTAY INVESTMENTS: This material is provided as a resource for information only. Neither New York Life Insurance Company, New York Life Investment Management LLC, their affiliates, nor their representatives provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You are urged to consult your own legal and tax advisors for advice before implementing any plan. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.