When a loved one or close friend passes away, you may feel a myriad of emotions. Even though you are grieving the loss, you must finalize several matters with the deceased’s estate.

Whether you are the executor of the estate or are creating an estate plan of your own, it is critical to understand the roles and responsibilities of the estate administrator.

Gathering up estate property

The estate executor must first gather up the estate’s property and assets. This may mean cashing in term life insurance policies, stocks, 401k plans, retirement plans and other market accounts. The executor must then determine the estate’s value. In addition to accumulating all property, the estate administrator must protect the property and assets from theft and/or vandalism.

Going through the probate process

The probate process helps distribute the property and assets that remain after paying expenses and debts. As part of the probate process, the estate administrator is responsible for paying any debts and/or expenses from the estate’s value. The remaining property and assets are then distributed to the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s last will and testament.

Are you fit to be an estate administrator?

Due to all of the responsibilities, it is critical that estate administrators are:

  • Able to devote the time to finalizing the estate
  • Trustworthy
  • Organized and good communicators
  • Cool, calm and collected in stressful situations
  • Detail-oriented

Finalizing an estate is often a complicated and overwhelming process, so it is essential that you stay calm in moments of stress and chaos. If someone ever appoints you as an estate executor but do not think you are up for the task, you can turn down the offer.

Keep in mind that if the deceased does not name an administrator in her or his will, the state will appoint one. However, not all cases must go through the probate process.