After the funeral, you may find yourself wondering where to start. You will want to get your hands on as much information as possible regarding the deceased’s assets and liabilities. This probably means you will have to search through their important documents to locate bank statements, deeds to real property, and documentation regarding expensive items of personal property as well as mortgages, credit cards, etc. If possible, you should also try to find the deceased’s last tax return and Notice of Assessment.
Once you believe you have discovered all of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, you should create an inventory that notes the values of all the items as of the date of death. This will assist you in applying for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (formerly referred to as “probate”) and also in filling out the Estate Information Return, once the Certificate is granted.
Depending on the assets of the estate, you may not need to apply for a Certificate of Appointment. You should visit a lawyer with experience in estate administration in order to help you determine whether this is the case.
You should make sure to note when the deceased’s Terminal T-1 Tax Return will be due (this date can change depending on what time of year someone dies). This tax return is a bit different from a normal income tax return, so you may wish to have a professional assist you with its preparation.
If the deceased owned real property, chances are, it will need to be sold. If you do not already have access to the property, you should obtain a set of keys and ensure that the property is secure.
There may be bills other than credit cards (ie. telephone, utilities, newspaper subscriptions, etc.) that you will need to cancel. Often these companies will require you to send them a notarized copy of the will. It is likely that the lawyer who is advising you regarding the estate administration can provide you with these.
These are just a few of the preliminary items that an executor will have to get a handle on. This article does not delve into the full gamut of executors’ concerns and activities in an estate administration. In order to ensure you meet your duties as an executor, be sure to contact a lawyer who practices in estate administration as soon as possible after you learn of your executorship.
At Martin & Hillyer Associates, we have two lawyers, Emma O’Donnell and Robert Martin, who are experienced in assisting clients with their estate administrations.