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2021 Checklist: Steps for Initiating the Estate Settlement Process

Are you needing to understand the Estate Settlement Process? We're here to help! Take a look at the first steps that need to be taken to initiate the estate settlement process.
Steps for Initiating the Estate Settlement Process

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After making funeral arrangements, settling the estate is the most important task that must be handled after a person’s death. It’s often a long process that can be very time-consuming and emotionally draining. Many people find that it’s best to hire an attorney who can manage the process and make sure everything is legally compliant. 

Even if you go that route, it helps to know what steps are involved with settling an estate. You may have already located and reviewed the last will and testament in order to make funeral arrangements, but settling financial and property matters is much more complex.

Below are the first steps that need to be taken to initiate the estate settlement process. 

Identify the Executor of the Will

If the person had a will it should specify who they want to act as the executor. Settling the estate is often one of the biggest tasks to handle, and that job belongs to the executor. The executor of a will is the person who’s in charge of making sure everything is carried out the way the deceased wanted. 

The executor could be a spouse, family member, close friend or attorney. Anyone can be named the executor of a will. There could also be more than one co-executor. 

Notify the IRS

The IRS needed to be contacted for a few reasons. The first being that your loved one’s social security number can’t be used for financial matters involving their assets. The IRS will provide a tax ID that’s used to carry activities for the estate.

Decide If You Need an Estate Attorney

The big question is whether or not the family should hire an estate attorney. If all of the following are true you might be able to manage settling the estate on your own:

  • There are no unusual situations or property.
  • The will probably won’t be contested by anyone.
  • The estate isn’t large.

Under any other circumstances it’s probably best to have a legal expert managing matters. If you plan to use an attorney, schedule a meeting as soon as possible so that you can discuss what to expect in the coming months. 

Decide If You Need to Hire an Accountant

Unlike any other year, you’ll have to file a tax return for your deceased loved one and the estate. Even if you normally do your own taxes, filing won’t be the same, and most people find it’s better to have a tax accountant prepare the return for the deceased and the estate.  

Contact the Benefactors

One of the first things that needs to be done is contacting the benefactors. If you aren’t the executor of the will you’ll be working closely with them to carry out this task. Patience is often needed during this part of the process. Benefactors may have questions that you don’t have answers to yet, or it may take time to track people down. 

Settling the estate after a death often takes much longer than most people realize. There could also be special circumstances. For example, if your loved one owned property in multiple states there may be different documents outlining the laws and legalities that must be reviewed first. 

If you have questions about what needs to be done after the death of a loved one the team at Green Cremation Texas is here for you. We’re available 24/7 every day of the year to answer your questions and provide assistance when you need it most. 


What Should Be Done Immediately After a Death

Steps to Take Before a Burial or Cremation

Steps to Take After the Burial or Cremation

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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