Your state may also require executors to place an advertisement in the legal notices section of the newspaper, advising creditors that the deceased has passed away and providing contact information for making claims.
"You want to cut off the creditors within a year, but you need to follow procedures for doing that," said Roberts.
In the weeks immediately following the will-maker's death, you will also need to have all tangible assets professionally appraised, including houses, cars and artwork, so the value can be included in the final death income-tax return.
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As administrator of the estate, it is your responsibility to maintain the will-maker's home, continue making mortgage, utility and insurance payments, and protect all personal property held within so it can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
That's why it's a good idea to consider changing the locks on the door and putting any valuables into storage, Roberts explained.
At the same time, you will need to note the value of any appreciated financial securities (stocks and bonds) in brokerage accounts at the date of death, since beneficiaries enjoy a step-up in cost basis, which minimizes their capital gain.
That means when they eventually sell those assets, they will only be required to pay taxes based on the increase in value since the day they inherited it, not its value when they were originally bought.