How to Settle a Loved One's Estate - Trust Point

How to Settle a Loved One’s Estate

Two people looking at estate settlement papers

Taking care of a loved ones estate after that individual passes is a big responsibility. If you’re chosen for this role, commonly known as “executor,” you will have to collect, organize, and distribute the estate’s assets. Here’s what you should expect when settling an estate.

Gather the Relevant Documents

The first order of business is to gather the documents that are typically necessary to settle an estate, including:

  • The decedent’s will
  • Multiple copies of the death certificate
  • Social Security numbers of the decedent, surviving spouse, and children
  • Final bills that must be paid after the decedent’s death
  • List of estate assets and liabilities
  • Any paper stock certificates or bonds
  • Account numbers and statements for all brokerage, bank, and retirement accounts owned by the deceased
  • Designated beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and life insurance policies
  • Life insurance policies
  • Deeds to all real estate owned by the deceased
  • Income tax returns for the last three years
  • Any trust or partnership agreements
  • Location and codes for any safe deposit boxes

Understand the Duties of the Executor

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you will have a range of tasks. Specifically, an executor must:

  • Arrange to have the will probated
  • Collect and inventory the estate’s assets
  • Value the estate’s assets
  • Manage and distribute assets to beneficiaries
  • Collect money owed to the estate
  • Notify creditors and pay the deceased’s debts
  • Prepare and file all necessary state and federal tax returns
  • Prepare a detailed accounting of actions taken in connection with settling the estate
  • Handle issues or challenges presented by beneficiaries

Reach Out to a Professional Fiduciary for Help

Getting professional help could make the estate settlement process considerably easier for you. Professional fiduciaries, like the team at Trust Point, are very familiar with the intricacies of estate administration and asset management and can handle many of the tasks involved in settling an estate.

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