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What are the preliminary duties of an estate representative?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Estate Planning

Surviving family members could find themselves in a tough spot when addressing matters regarding the deceased’s estate. When it undergoes the probate process, the court could identify a person who could represent the estate based on the deceased’s will or the law.

After appointing someone for this role, they immediately have several duties. These are preliminary tasks relevant to gathering information before moving forward. The representative must accomplish the following before facilitating estate distribution:

  • Secure the estate by storing property paperwork and valuables safely.
  • Find out if a will exists and secure it.
  • Gather necessary documents, such as certified death certificate copies.
  • Collect monetary assets and benefits, including bank account, life insurance, annuity and Social Security funds.
  • Make a list of heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Review the deceased’s possessions for vital documents and other valuable belongings.
  • Check the deceased’s mail for documents regarding assets or liabilities.
  • Call any credit card or subscription providers and cancel the deceased’s accounts.
  • Acquire email access to address digital assets.
  • Inform the Franchise Tax Board.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration if the deceased received monthly benefits before their death.
  • Put together the deceased’s final income tax returns.

The representative’s preliminary duties could vary based on the circumstances. Some steps might be irrelevant or added, depending on the estate details.

Identifying beneficiaries and heirs might be challenging

Determining who has a right to the estate could be difficult. Sometimes, the deceased might name them in their will or trust agreements. Otherwise, state laws come into play. However, tracing beneficiaries and heirs could have legal components, necessitating the help of a lawyer.

Nevertheless, being an estate representative is a huge responsibility. Fortunately, the law has provisions to determine who is fit for the job and to keep them accountable until the process ends.