Picking the right person to handle their affairs after death is one of the most important things New York residents can do during the estate planning process. Fulfilling the duties of an executor is something a person might not want to do, since it brings home the finality of a friend’s or loved one’s death.

While some people may not want to shoulder this duty, others may look upon it as an honor, a symbol of trust that the decedent had. Whatever the case, there are things an executor can do to make this task easier.

The first step, after making funeral arrangements and paying for the funeral from estate funds, is to obtain death certificates for banks, insurance companies and government agencies such as the Social Security Administration. The latter is important, because any retirement benefits that are paid after the death of the decedent will have to be repaid.

The executor is charged with protecting the testator’s assets so they can be distributed to heirs in accordance with the terms of the will. It helps if the testator left a list of assets; otherwise, the executor will need to locate them.

Because wrapping up the final affairs of a person can be a complicated process, the executor may want to seek advice from a professional. An estate administration attorney may be able to offer assistance, especially when it comes to filling out forms for the probate court. Depending on how complex the estate is, a property appraiser or an accountant also may be needed.