The very first step in this process it to find the will. This task can be an easy or difficult, depending on where it is stored. Typical places where a person keeps a will include a safe deposit box, a home safe, or with his or her lawyer.
Find out if the deceased owned any real property. Real property is anything that is attached to land, such as a house or even the ground itself (land). Everything else owned by the deceased is personal property.
Find out all assets owned by the deceased. Have the mail redirected to you so that you are aware of any car or mortgage payments, credit card payments, retirement updates, or other important documents. You may want to consider doing a search of the decedent’s house to look for any other important documents.
If the deceased failed to specify an executor or administrator in their will or to their attorney, request that one be appointed. Although this position is called different thinks depending on what state your in, the person who has the fiduciary duty towards the decedent’s estate is the executor or administrator.
Go to the probate court in the county in which the deceased lived at the time of their death and make an appointment. Make sure to bring information about the estate with you, including a list of assets with approximate values, the original will, and the death certificate.
Seek the aid of an experienced estate-planning attorney or the clerk at the courthouse for more information. The clerk can be a valuable resource, and is the gatekeeper in the court, so start the process off on a good foot!