How to Settle An Estate

If you have been appointed executor of a will, there are several steps in settling the estate. An experienced estate attorney can assist you along the way, if necessary. You will need to accomplish the following:

  • Find the will if there is one. Not all people prepare wills and sometimes a will can not be found. In these cases the person dies “intestate.” If there is a safe deposit box, as executor you should be able to open it for the purpose of determining if the will is there.  
  • Determine whether probate is necessary.
  • File the will with the local probate court if the estate is required to be probated based on it’s value. Not all will require probate. Make a copy for yourself first.
  • Notify relevant agencies and businesses of the death. For example,

the post office

utility companies

credit card companies


federal agencies that had provided public benefits such as the Social Security Administration

  • Inventory assets and obtain appraisals. Determine how title to assets is held.
  • Coordinate with the successor trustee if there is a living trust.
  • Communicate with beneficiaries. If the estate goes through probate, you will have to send formal notices.
  • Take good care of estate assets. You must keep real estate well maintained, valuables secure, and everything of value insured.
  • Collect money owed to the estate.
  • Pay estate bills from estate funds.
  • File an income tax return for the estate. You may wish to seek the advice of an accountant or tax preparer.
  • Distribute the assets.

Given the many steps involved in the process, you may wish to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney in the process.


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About Us

The personal injury law firm of Goldberg & Chase, LLP. in Brooklyn, New York represents clients throughout the New York (NYC) metropolitan area, including the five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens. The counties we serve include Suffolk County, Nassau County, Westchester County, and Putnam County.