Executors: What to Do First

Gathering and organizing all of the necessary documents should be the first work done.

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If you've never been an executor before (and most of us don't do it more than once or twice in a lifetime, after all), it can be hard to know where to start. The good news is that although you'll be busy during the first weeks after the person's death, most legal and financial tasks can wait. In fact, it's usually a good idea to hold off on taking any significant actions for a while, until you have a clear financial picture. Your first task is simply to get organized and start gathering documents you'll need to wind up the estate over the next few months.

Serving as Executor? Nolo Can Help.

Find a local lawyer for advice or handle the estate yourself with nolo's award winning do-it-yourself legal books.

The Executor's Guide

The Executor's Guide

Settle an estate or trust with this all-in-one guide for executors. The Executor's Guide will help you make progress one step at a time through the unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology.


The Trustee's Legal Companion

The Trustee's Legal Companion

Learn the ins and outs of being a trustee with this guide for every trust administrator. The Trustee’s Legal Companion shows you exactly how to proceed within the terms of the trust and your state's law.


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