The first thing you should do, is locate the will. If you don't already know where the will is, look in important places (an important papers file, a safety deposit box if you can access it, a safe in the home, etc.) and talk with other family members and close friends to find out if they know where the will is located.
Once you have the will, there are two things you need to start doing as soon as possible:
- Track down ALL of the property owned by the deceased person.
- Admit the will to probate.
For number 2, you typically need to take the ORIGINAL will to the courthouse in the city or county in which the deceased person resided. You will want to make sure you are in the Circuit Court building. Depending on the set up of the clerk's office in the courthouse, there is most likely a probate clerk and that is the person with whom you want to speak. The probate clerk can help you through the process. During that process, you will sign an oath, likely pay a bond, and be given instructions on your duties moving forward.
Admitting the will to probate is just the beginning on the probate process (which is described briefly here). I strongly suggest you speak with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you are adequately performing your duties as the executor throughout the entire process.
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