Checklist for an estate administrator

An executor of a will is a person who is responsible for administering the assets and carrying out the wishes of the deceased as outlined in his or her will. Serving as an executor is not an easy task, especially the person in that role may also be in the midst of grieving. The process of settling an estate can last months or even years. It does not make things easier if there is no well-documented list of latest assets and where to find them. The responsibilities of an estate administrator or executor are as follow:



Step 1: Locate and review Will
Step 2: Make funeral arrangements
Step 3: Obtain all relevant documents needed for the court application
Step 4: Solicit professional counsel
Step 5: Notify beneficiaries of bequest
Step 6: Determine all estate assets and liabilities
Step 7: Open estate account
Step 8: Submit Will for probate
Step 9: Advertise for estate creditors
Step 10: Convert residual estate assets to cash
Step 11: Pay financial obligations (e.g. debts, taxes, expenses)
Step 12: Complete final tax returns or obtain a clearance certificate
Step 13: Distribute inheritance
Step 14: Make trust arrangements
Step 15: Prepare estate accounts
Step 16: Close estate accounts



Before you decide to take on the role of an estate administrator, it is also good to know what are the potential pitfalls or hazards so that you can make an informed decision on whether to take on the role.

  • Time-consuming (and hassle to juggle all the paperwork and handle the different parties involved)
  • Potential disputes (with co-executors, beneficiaries, heirs)
  • Personal liability exposure (if you disburse the inheritance without settling all the known or unknown liabilities in the proper order)
  • Out-of-pocket costs (reimbursable by the estate but not guaranteed)
  • Under fiduciary durty to keep accurate and complete accounts (and allow beneficiaries to inspect them when requested)



This checklist is provided for information and convenience only. While we make an effort to ensure the information provided is informative and useful, it does not take the place of professional legal, financial or medical advice.


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