Duties of an Executor
If you are asked to be an Executor then one of the very first things you want to do before you agree is to find out exactly what that entails. Even if you have already agreed, it is important for you to review this information to be sure you are still comfortable with that appointment.
Determine your legal liability and possible financial pit falls. There is insurance an Executor may purchase for protection. It's up to you to decide if this is something for you.
Request a certified copy of the Will. This is important because it will assist in the first few days after the death in the event the original copy is not yet available. It should be a copy of the entire Will and you should be aware of the beneficiaries' contact information.
Request a copy of the Executor's Checklist
Request a copy of the key for the main residence; this can be kept in a safety deposit box. This will facilitate securing the property even if the keys cannot be immediately located.
Create a file for this information and store. If funeral arrangements have not been pre-planned then review whether or not the wishes are in the Will. It is the Executor's responsibility to arrange and pay for the funeral out of the estate. Generally they consult with family members. If someone wants to pay towards or for the funeral then make sure you have it all in writing and that the person will not request money from the estate at a later date.
After the death occurs:
If family members have not already done so, contact the funeral home to make transfer arrangements. Contact next of kin to get notification out for the funeral.
Secure the property of the deceased. No items should be removed from any property. Vehicles should also be secured.
Visit the home branch of the deceased's financial institution. Make sure you have either the original Will, or if the original is in a safety deposit box, then the certified copy of it to prove your status. The deceased's account will be closed and all balances transferred into a new account for the Estate.
Get an appraisal of any property, vehicles, artwork, jewelry, etc. This information will be necessary if probate is required. It is crucial.
Discuss immediate financial needs of the survivors, if applicable, to ensure bills can continue to be paid.
Search for all documents related to the deceased.
This is a very abbreviated list of duties. Every Estate is so different that it's impossible to give a detailed, personalized list. This is why we recommend Wilhaven's Service. We ask the questions most people don't realize exist.