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Appointed as an executor? Here's what to do next

Estate administration is more than just distributing assets according to a will. Estate administration requires the administrator to take possession of all real estate, stocks, personal belongings and other assets that have been left behind by the decedent.

The administrator of the estate (or executor) needs to do many things when a person dies. Upon their death, you'll take on the legal responsibility of administering the state including protecting and distributing property, paying taxes, notifying creditors and other tasks.

What's the first step the personal representative should take?

The first step is to document all of the assets belonging to the decedent. This inventory is used to identify all assets and make sure they're located.

Next, all creditors have to be notified of the decedent's death. If the debts the decedent owed are small enough to be paid from the estate, they are. If not, the representative may need to speak to the court to find out which creditors must be paid.

After all creditors are paid and taxes are done, the estate can be distributed. How that happens depends on if there was any will left behind. If there is, then the remaining assets are distributed as the decedent wished. If not, the decedent is said to have died while intestate, and the state laws will determine how to distribute those assets.

Your attorney can help you learn about what to do if you are appointed as a personal representative for the estate. With the right support, you can get through this process and help carry out your loved one's wishes.

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