An Estate Executor's Checklist: 6 Tasks to Know Before Death

Here is what you should know before being named an Estate Executor

Posted on January 20, 2021 by Alex Gauthier
Estate Executor Planning

The tricky thing about being an estate executor is that timing is crucial. Some things, like funeral arrangements, notifications of death, submitting the will, and canceling subscriptions and benefits, need to occur very, very quickly. That can be incredibly taxing when simultaneously dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.

That’s why preparing as much as possible in advance will alleviate this burden significantly. While it’s always extremely unpleasant to think about someone close to you dying, making preparations beforehand will help you when you’re in the moment. Discuss these things with your loved one well in advance, or with someone who knows their affairs. Trust us, future you will thank you.

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Know where the will is

First of all, make sure there is a will. A will is crucial to the entire estate settlement process and helps significantly speed things up while also avoiding unnecessary costs and delays through legal proceedings. Be sure you know where it’s located, and ensure it’s up to date. Make sure you know where copies are held as well.

Know where other important documents are kept

Piggybacking off the first point: Know the location of important documents such as deeds, insurance policies, the safety deposit box, and partnership agreements. This will make the task of assessing the value of assets much easier. Once again, make sure there are copies and be aware of their location.

If appropriate, create joint accounts

If you know that your loved one is planning on passing their assets to their spouse, then it may be smart to set all accounts as joint and make sure that properties and titles are in both names, if this isn’t already the case. That way, the process of transferring assets will go much smoother once the time comes. This is also a good time to make sure your loved one has named beneficiaries for their pension, retirement accounts, and insurance policies.

Prepare an inventory of all financial accounts

Trust us, the last thing you’ll want to be doing once you’re grieving is scrambling through your loved one’s papers in order to find all their possible financial accounts. Take care of this beforehand and make sure you have a list of all of your loved one’s financial accounts, including investment accounts, chequing accounts, digital banking accounts, and savings accounts. Make sure you have all the information you’ll need, including account numbers and contacts.

Record all digital accounts

It’s the 21st century, which means that even if your loved one is more advanced in age, they’re still likely to have some sort of social media or digital account. Whether that be a PayPal account, a Facebook profile, or an eBay account—make sure you have a record so that you can deactivate them when you need to.

Keep track of items with sentimental value

While the process of settling your loved one’s estate will focus on assets with financial value, there are some items that have no financial value to speak of but still mean a great deal for you, your family, and your loved ones. Perhaps it’s that hand-knit quilt that’s been passed down in your family for generations, or a book with a personal inscription that you and your loved one shared a special bond over. Keeping a list of these items and their intended recipients will clear up any potential confusion down the line.