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The death of a family member can be an emotionally exhausting time. For those who are called on in this difficult time to be the executor/executrix, the personal representative, or to oversee the administration and/or probate of the estate, the process can be overwhelming. Without clear direction, the assets of the estate may be improperly accounted for in violation of applicable court rules, expenses may be overlooked, and there may be confusion or disputes over which beneficiaries are entitled to specific assets.

Perhaps you are wondering what is involved in administering an estate? While every estate is different, here is a partial list of what is required for a “typical” estate:

  • Prepare opening documents for an estate, including the recording of the will at the register of wills
  • Assist executor or Personal Representative in getting the letters of Administration or letters testamentary
  • Prepare application for tax identification number for the estate
  • Prepare and mail out date of death valuation letters to determine the value of accounts
  • Prepare signature cards for estate bank accounts
  • Close decedent’s bank accounts
  • Open estate checking and savings (or money market) accounts
  • Transfer assets to name of succession
  • Change decedent’s mailing address
  • Cancel subscriptions, etc. and request refunds for unexpired terms
  • Extend insurance coverage to protect estate for home, motor vehicles, etc., titled in decedent’s name
  • File life insurance claims and request copies of Federal Form 712
  • Complete Sworn Descriptive List detailing any expenses/liabilities the estate has incurred (such as funeral expenses)

As if all of this wasn’t hard enough to accomplish quickly and while in mourning, some estates can be considerably more complex to administer, particularly when the estate is large or in situations involving disputes between family members.

Fortunately, you do not have to go through this process alone. We can work with you to determine the accurate value of the estate, resolve any outstanding debts and expenses, and efficiently distribute assets to the proper beneficiaries.


Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. It is a lengthy, complicated and often frustrating process, made all the more difficult by the grief that accompanies losing a loved one. We can show you a number of ways to help both small estates and large estates avoid probate altogether. We can also guide your family through this difficult process with compassion and sensitivity.

If you are faced with the prospect of administering or probating an estate, we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for a consultation.