As the executor of a loved one’s estate, you have the honor of distributing assets to the beneficiaries per their wishes. This is a duty most people only have once or twice in their life, so they do not have a deep understanding of the requirements. Being an administrator of a Tennessee estate is no small task. We often help clients navigate the probate process and ensure the documentation and forms are complete.

Depending on the family dynamics, previous cases addressed by the state court and size of the estate, probate typically takes several months to a year if there are no significant issues. If anyone contests the will, you may have years of work ahead of you.

Protect the estate

According to Kiplinger, your primary duty as the executor is protecting the contents of the estate.  The first step involves finding the original will. If the individual was ill, chances are you already have a copy or know where the testator stored the final version of the document. If their passing was sudden, check file cabinets, safe deposit boxes and desks.

Securing the physical assets is a priority as well, especially if there is a risk that family members may try to remove the pieces they want before probate. If your loved one owned their home, change the locks. If they had a lease, the landlord might require official documentation before you can gain entrance to the premises. Inventory valuables, then move them to a secure location.

Access financial accounts

You will need a copy of the death certificate for financial institutions before accessing the decedent’s accounts. Order copies from the funeral home within six months and get more than you think you will need. They are inexpensive and never expire.

Forwarding mail, canceling credit cards and disposing of prescription medication is also part of your duties. Although executors and successor trustees have many other legal responsibilities, these tasks can help you get started.