What Should I Know If I Am The Executor Or Administrator Of An Estate?

William Sweeney

It will help you as the Executor or Administrator to know the answers to the following questions (as many as are relevant):

1. Where is the will kept?

2. Are there any special directions for the Executor or Administrator regarding how the assets are to be distributed (especially tangible personal property like jewelry, art, books, collectibles, furniture, etc..) ..?

3. What sort of assets are there? (Real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance, annuities, U.S. savings bonds, bank accounts, partnerships in business?)

4. Do beneficiaries owe any money to the deceased? If so, how should this be handled? Will this be considered a part of that person's share of the estate, or what?

5. Will there be enough cash available to deal with foreseeable expenses and taxes?

6. If there will be estate taxes due and payable, what assets will be used to pay for this?

7. Is there any life insurance? If so, who is the beneficiary? Where is the policy?

8. Are there other assets that will pay death benefits? If so, what is the claims procedure?

9. Who are the designated beneficiaries on IRAs, annuities, and other such assets?

10. What debts/liabilities (and contingent liabilities) are there and how will these be paid?

11. Will there be any ongoing support obligations for dependents?

12. Where are important papers kept? [deeds, vehicle "pink slips", savings bonds, stock certificates, investment and bank account statements, insurance policies, pension information, etc.]

13. Is there a safe or safe deposit box? If so, where is it located, and where is the key or combination kept?

14. If there is a business involved, what is the plan for business continuation or transfer upon the owner's death? Where are the business records kept?

15. What are the names, addresses and phone numbers of all beneficiaries?

16. What are the names, addresses and phone numbers of the deceased's accountant, attorney, investment advisor, and insurance agent?

17. Is there a cemetery plot or prepaid mortuary arrangement?

18. Are there any special circumstances involving the beneficiaries that should be discussed? [problem relationships, troubled marriages, substance abuse problems, physical or mental disability, financial irresponsibility, threatened lawsuits, etc.]

19. If the deceased keeps financial records on a computer, get details, username and password.