Do you have the time, skills, patience, knowledge, temperament, and money to do executor duties according to your State’s guidelines? How easy or hard this is depends on the person appointing you. And oh, by the way, they’re not here to help you when they’re gone … so try to get insight while they are here.
On the person who appointed you:
How organized were they? How transparent are their records so that you can find their stuff typically scattered all over the place, and/or at many financial institutions, to properly dispose of it? If you don’t, the state may claim the property under escheatment laws, which means the rightful heirs missed out due to not being able to find and dispose of the property.
Look for tax returns to help ferret out some of their property through the statements or information related to their last return. Have their mail forwarded to you so you can see what comes through the mail related to their property. Many people get their statements electronically with email notifications, but their email provider may or may not allow you access to their email to get that source of information. Where do they keep paper copies of anything at home … that may help identify what, and where, they have property. Ask their bank if they had a safe deposit box. Getting the idea? You’ll need to be a detective unless the deceased kept good records (both off and online) to help you.
Because everyone’s situation is different, trying to summarize them all in a short blog would be cumbersome. You may find applicable tidbits that apply to you in any of these articles that may help:
Go to AARP’s website and use the Search box “Executor.”
Go to CNNMoney’s website and use the Search box “Executor.”
PS. Being a Trustee is similar to the above … what’s the difference?
PPS. This is in no manner legal advice … for that you need to contact a local lawyer (in the geographic area where the property is located if the deceased has property spread out all over).