When someone dies, you may be the person responsible for making sure their personal and financial affairs are handled and distributed as they advised. Did the person leave a Will? What accounts and real property do they solely own? Does an estate administration need to be opened to distribute their assets? These are all important questions that will need to be answered. If the deceased did have a Will, the appointed Executor will be in charge of administering the assets and estate. If they did not leave a Will, the next of kin (Spouse or children) will be appointed as the Administrator of the Estate.

Q:     What is a Will and why should a person have one?

A:     A Will is a written document in which you state who shall receive your property upon your death. If you have any real property (land) or personal property (cars, jewelry, money) that you want to give to a specific person, you must have a Will. Otherwise the property will pass to persons in accordance with the Intestate Succession Laws.

Q.     How do I make a Will?

A:     You should contact a lawyer for assistance with making a Will to ensure it is properly drafted, correctly signed and witnessed. If a will is not prepared as required by law, it may be deemed invalid. An invalid will is useless, and your property will pass to your heirs by Intestate Succession.

Q.     A relative (or friend) just died and I am supposed to handle their estate. What does that mean?

A.     Handling a person’s estate, depending on the value of assets in the estate, your relationship to the decedent, and whether other people are entitled to some of the assets will need to be determined. Contacting an estate lawyer would be the best place to start and they can advise you of what will be required. A tax professional’s assistance may also be required.   *The representative will need to be appointed first in order to begin the administration of the estate.


If you have been appointed as Executor, visit our other post, “I Was Named Executor…Now What?”. Or give us a call at (919) 900-4720 to make sure you are properly fulfilling your duties.