Executor Information Kit

for Your State

This Executor Information Kit provides invaluable information regarding the appointment of an executor and his or her duties upon your death. This kit includes a detailed checklist for the executor's use and duties which must be performed during the probate process.

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This Executor Information Kit contains a complete overview of an executor's duties during a typical probate proceeding. Valuable information is also included on how you should choose an executor and that you should discuss this matter with the individual before appointing them to this important position. This Executor Information Kit contains detailed information and invaluable resources for use by both you and your executor.

This Executor Information Kit includes the following:
  • Immediate Executor Duties: Sets out the duties which must be handled immediately including burial or cremation arrangements, contact of relatives, friends and business associates and arranging for immediate care of decedent's children if applicable;
  • Duties Within First Month: Sets out individuals or companies to contact including insurance agents or providers, Medicare and the Social Security Administration, retirement fund trustees and credit card and utility companies;
  • Financial Duties: Many financial duties cannot be delegated to anyone but the executor and these include inventory and appraisal of assets, filing decedent's will with the probate court, collection of all monies due to decedent and distribution of any remaining assets according to the will;
  • Information Checklist: Detailed checklist for use by the executor which includes location of records, funeral or cremation records, contact information and newspaper obituary information.

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This attorney-prepared packet contains:
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Wills  Executor Kit









This Packet Includes:
1. Information
2. Executor Duties Checklist
3. Executor Information List
4. Wills  Executor Kit





Information
Wills  Executor Kit

This kit provides tools and guidelines relating to the appointment and duties of the Executor of your will, as well as information about the probate process.

Before actually planning your will, an overview of how the legal system operates after a persons death may be useful to keep in mind.  The system of court administration of the estates of deceased parties is generally entitled probate.  How to avoid the probate court was the subject of one of the first self-help law books to challenge the legal establishments monopoly on law.  Probate, however, despite what many lawyers would have you believe, is not all that mysterious a matter.

Note:  Before appointing an executor, you may wish to consult the laws in your state governing the operation of wills.  For a brief overview of these laws, please visit our State Law Digest.  For your convenience, links to the digest are provided in Appendix A.

Overview of a Typical Probate Proceeding

Upon a persons death, in most states there is a general sequence of events which takes place.  First, the executor appointed in the will (who, hopefully, has been notified of her or his duties in advance) locates the will and files it with the proper authority.  If necessary, the executor arranges for the funeral and burial.  If the estate is complicated or very large, it may be prudent to hire a lawyer to handle the probate proceeding.  Upon presenting the will to the probate court, the will is proved, which means that it is determined whether or not the document presented is actually the deceaseds will.  This may be done in most states with a self-proving affidavit that is prepared and notarized that is prepared and notarized at the time your will is signed.  

Upon proof that the will is valid, the executor is officially given legal authority to gather together all of the estates property.  This authority for the executor to administer the estate is generally referred to as letters testamentary.  The probate court also officially appoints any trustees and also the parties who are designated as guardians of any minor children.





If no executor was chosen in the will, or if the one chosen cannot serve, the probate court will appoint one.  The order of preference for appointment is commonly as follows: surviving spouse, next of kin, and then a person having an interest in the estate or claims against the estate.



If the will is shown to be invalid, or if there is no will, the same sequence of events generally is followed.  However, in this case, the party appointed to administer the estate is usually titled an administrator of the estate rather than an executor.  The court orders granting authority to an administrator are generally referred to as letters of administration.

After the executor or administrator is given authority, he or she handles the collection of assets, management of the estate, and payment of any debts and taxes until such time as all creditors claims have been satisfied and other business of the estate completed.  An inventory of all of the assets is typically the first official act of an executor.  Creditors, by the way, only have a certain time period in which to make a claim against an estate.  The same holds true for any contests (challenging the validity) of the will.  Contesting a will is a fairly rare occurrence and is most difficult if the will was properly prepared and signed by a competent, sane adult.

The executor generally will also be empowered under state law to provide an allowance for the surviving spouse and children until such time as all affairs of the deceased person are completed and the estate is closed.

Upon completion of all business and payment of all outstanding charges against the estate, an accounting and inventory of the estates assets are then presented to the probate court by the executor.  At this time, if everything appears to be in order, the executor is generally empowered to distribute all of the remaining property to the persons or organizations named in the will and probate is officially closed.  The entire probate process generally takes from four to 18 months to complete.  The distribution of your property and money is usually handled solely by the executor (possibly with a lawyers help to be certain that all legal requirements are fulfilled).  Normally, this is done without further court approval of the disbursement.

Choosing an Executor



Your choice of who should be your executor is a personal decision.  A spouse, sibling, or other trusted party is usually chosen to act as executor, although a bank officer, accountant, or attorney can also be chosen.  The person chosen should be someone you trust and whom you feel can handle or at least efficiently delegate the complicated tasks of making an inventory of all of your property and distributing it to your chosen beneficiaries.  The person chosen should be a resident of the state in which you currently reside.  In addition, all states require that executors be competent, of legal age (generally, over 18) and a citizen of the United States.  Although it is possible, it is generally not wise to appoint two or more persons as co-executors.  It is preferable to appoint your first choice as primary executor and the other person as alternate executor.



In your will, you will grant the executor broad powers to manage your estate and will also provide that he or she is not required to post a bond in order to be appointed to serve as executor.  This provision can save your estate considerable money, depending upon the estates size.  The fees for executor bonds are based upon the size of the estate and can amount to hundreds of dollars for every year that your estate is being managed.  By waiving this bond requirement, these potential bond fees can be eliminated and the money saved can be passed on to your beneficiaries.

You should discuss your choice with the person chosen to be certain that he or she will be willing to act as executor.  In addition, it is wise to provide your executor, in advance, with a copy of the will, a copy of any organ-donation desires, a copy of your Property and Beneficiary Questionnaires, and a copy of the information contained in this kit.  (Please go to http://www.findlegalforms.com for Property and Beneficiary Questionnaires.)

Executor Duties Checklist Instructions

Provided on the following pages is a checklist of items that your executor may have to deal with after your death.  Although this list is extensive, there may be other personal tasks that are not included.  Scanning this list can give you an idea of the scope and range of the executors duties.  You can provide invaluable assistance to your executor by being aware of his or her duties and providing the executor with information to help him or her.  This checklist is divided into immediate and first-month time periods.  These time periods are approximations and many of the duties may be required to be performed either before or after the exact time specified.  Also included in the checklist are the financial duties.  These duties cannot be delegated.  Following this list, a section is provided for listing such information for your executor.






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Executor Duties Checklists


Immediate Executor Duties

?   Contact cemetery regarding burial or cremation

?   Contact local newspaper with obituary information

?   Contact relatives and close friends

?   Contact employer and business associates

?   Contact lawyer and accountant

?   Arrange for pallbearers

?   Contact mortuary or funeral home regarding services

?   Arrange for immediate care of decedents children

?   Arrange for living expenses for decedents spouse

?   Contact veterans organizations

?   Contact guardians or trustees named in will
Executor Duties within First Month

?   Contact life insurance agent and report death

?   Contact general insurance agent

?   Contact medical and health insurance companies

?   Contact Medicare

?   Contact union regarding pensions and death benefits

?   Contact employer regarding pensions and death benefits

?   Contact military regarding pensions and death benefits

?   Contact Social Security Administration

?   Obtain death certificates from attending physician

?   Contact IRA or KEOGH account trustees

?   Contact county recorder

?   Contact post office

?   Contact Department of Motor Vehicles

?   Arrange for management of business or real estate holdings

?   Review all of decedents records and legal documents

?   Contact gas, telephone, cable, electric, trash, and water companies

?   Contact newspaper and magazine subscription departments

?   Contact credit card companies
Executor Financial Duties
These cannot be delegated.

?   Begin inventory of assets

?   Arrange for appraisal of assets

?   Begin collection of assets

?   Contact banks, savings and loans, and credit unions

?   Contact mortgage companies

?   Contact stockbroker and investment counselor

?   Open bank accounts for estate

?   Open decedents safe deposit box

?   File the will with probate court

?   Inventory all estate assets

?   Collect all monies and property due to decedent

?   Pay all taxes due and file all necessary tax returns

?   Provide notice to all creditors of time limit for claims

?   Pay all debts and expenses of decedent, including funeral expenses

?   Arrange for sale of estate assets, if necessary

?   Distribute all remaining assets according to will

?   Submit final accounting and receipts to probate court

?   Close estate books and affairs

?   Close trust books and affairs
Executor Information Checklist Instructions

The following listing will provide your executor with valuable information that will make performing his or her difficult task much easier.  Included in this questionnaire is information relating to the location of your records, any funeral or burial arrangements that you have made, lists of important persons, businesses, or organizations whom the executor will need to contact after your death, and information that will assist your executor in preparing any obituary listing.  It may be very difficult to confront your own mortality and the need for this information.  Please take the time to provide this valuable record of information for your executor.  After your death, he or she may be under tremendous emotional stress and this information will help him or her perform the executors necessary duties with the least difficulty.  You will probably wish to give this information list and a copy of your will to the person whom you have chosen as your executor.

Executor Information Checklist

Location of Records

Original of will    
Original of codicil    
Trust documents    
Safe deposit box and key    
Bankbook and savings passbook    
Treasury bills and certificates of deposit    
   
   
Social Security records    
Real estate deeds and mortgage documents    
Veterans information    
Stock certificates and bonds    
   
   
Promissory notes and loan documents    
   
Business records    
Partnership records    
Corporation records    
Automobile titles    
Income tax records    
Credit card records    
Birth certificate    
Warranties    
   
   
Other important papers    
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   



Funeral or Cremation Arrangements

Name of mortuary, funeral home, or crematorium    
   
Name of person contacted    
Phone    
Address    
   
Arrangements made    
   
   
   
   
   
   

Name of cemetery    
Name of person contacted    
Phone    
Address    
   
Arrangements made    
   
   
   
   
   
   

Location of memorial or church service    
   
Name of person contacted    
Phone    
Address    
   
Arrangements made    
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   


Persons, Businesses, and Organizations to Contact

Clergy    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Lawyer    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Accountant    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

IRA or Keogh account trustee    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Stockbroker    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Investment counselor    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Life insurance agent    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

General insurance agent    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Medical insurance agent    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    
Health insurance agent    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Physician    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Dentist    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Employer    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Employer    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Business associate    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Business associate    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Union representative    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Guardian named in will    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Guardian named in will    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Trustee named in will    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Trustee named in will    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Military unit    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Veterans organization    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Bank, savings and loan, or credit union    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Bank, savings and loan, or credit union    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Mortgage company    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Utility    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    


Utility    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Utility    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Utility    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Newspaper    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Magazine    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Credit card company    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Credit card company    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Credit card company    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Relatives to Contact

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Relative name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friends to Contact

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   

Friend name    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone   


Newspaper Obituary Information

Newspaper    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Newspaper    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Newspaper    
Address    
City, State, Zip    
Phone    

Name    
Date of birth    
Place of birth    
Current residence    
   
Former residence   
   
   
Occupation    
   
   
Education    
   
   
Military service    
   
Club, union, civic, or fraternal organizations    
   
   
Special achievements    
   
   
   
   
   
   
Survivors    
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Date of death    
Place of service    
   
Date of service    
Time of service    
Memorial contribution preference    
   
   
   
   

APPENDIX A
FindLegalForms.com
State Law Digest for Wills
Provided under agreement with copyright holder,
© Nova Publishing Company 2004

(Click on the appropriate state link below)

ALABAMA
ALASKA
ARIZONA
ARKANSAS
CALIFORNIA
COLORADO
CONNECTICUT
DELAWARE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
FLORIDA
GEORGIA
HAWAII
IDAHO
ILLINOIS
INDIANA
IOWA
KANSAS
KENTUCKY
LOUISIANA
MAINE
MARYLAND
MASSACHUSETTS
MICHIGAN
MINNESOTA
MISSISSIPPI
MISSOURI
MONTANA
NEBRASKA
NEVADA
NEW HAMPSHIRE
NEW JERSEY
NEW MEXICO
NEW YORK
NORTH CAROLINA
NORTH DAKOTA
OHIO
OKLAHOMA
OREGON
PENNSYLVANIA
RHODE ISLAND
SOUTH CAROLINA
SOUTH DAKOTA
TENNESSEE
TEXAS
UTAH
VERMONT
VIRGINIA
WASHINGTON
WEST VIRGINIA
WISCONSIN
WYOMING

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