If you've been named as executor or personal representative in someone's will, whether the person has recently died or you know you may need to fill this role in the future, you no doubt wonder what the job will entail. While you will likely hire an attorney to help with the process, it's difficult to get a complete picture of all the steps and details.
12 Step Process
A new website, Executor.org, now provides such a comprehensive view and a system of keeping track of where you stand in the process. It works in large part as a series of 12 checklists with explanations of each item on the lists. Its 12 steps are as follows:
- Learn About the Executor Role and Duties
- Obtain and Review the Latest Will and Living Trusts
- Hire the Relevant Professional Team to Support You
- Create a Detailed Record-Keeping System
- File Will with the Probate Court and Obtain Death Certificates
- Notify Relevant Organizations of the Death
- Find, Value and Protect Assets
- Manage the Estate, Eliminating Unnecessary Costs
- Determine and Pay Debts of the Estate, Including Taxes
- Create a Plan for Distribution or Sale of Personal Property
- Sell the Real Estate
- Distribute Estate According to Will and Close the Estate
The site's 13th step is to plan your own estate.
With up to 15 items on each checklist, the number of things that need to be accomplished can be overwhelming. But the checklists allow the work to be divided up among family members and between the attorney and clients. In addition, to some extent the steps are chronological, so the team can start at the top and keep working its way down the list.
In addition, to the checklists, Executor.org provides a Data Vault where the executor can keep upload the decedent's death certificate and keep notes on expenses, contacts, and assets. In addition, the executor can track her time, describing the tasks she works on each day and the hours she spends. This can be vital in making sure she receives adequate compensation for her role.
It's Free! At Least for Now
Right now, the site is free. The founder says that he plans to start charging for its use when the enough people have tried it so that he feels comfortable that it's up to snuff, but that he won't charge anyone who already has an account registered at that time. It looks to me like it's ready to go.
Clearly, they also have in mind selling leads to other services. When the user says the estate contains real estate to sell, the site offers a link to Opendoor.com which buys and resales real estate around the country. There may be other such links in the program which I haven't come across yet, or more to come. I don't see these as reasons not to use it since it in no requires you to follow the link.
As you can see, I'm a fan. But give it a try and let me know what you think.