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American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

Summer 2008

Vol. 4, No. 4

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Estate Planning

  • Ten Things to Do to Prepare a Will for Probate
    By Angela Barker


Ten Things to Do to Prepare a Will for Probate

If you are the executor of a will there are many things you must do to get that will ready for probate. Probate means the process by which the deceased’s assets are gathered; outstanding debts, taxes, and expenses of the funeral and the probate process are paid; and the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries in the will. Following here are the top ten things needed to prepare for probate.

  1. Get names and addresses of all person named in the will;
  2. Determine if the deceased has any pending financial or legal matters requiring immediate attention;
  3. Arrange for a meeting with everyone named in the will;
  4. Gather, do not destroy, any of the deceased’s records, tax returns, checks, or other documents;
  5. Get death certificates (from funeral home);
  6. Keep careful records of all funeral-related expenses;
  7. Don’t pay debts unless truly necessary;
  8. Change locks on the door if deceased lived alone;
  9. Secure valuable items;
  10. Notify insurance carriers of the recent death.

Angela Barker is a graduate of Columbia Law School and is an attorney in private practice. Her firm, The Law Office of Angela Barker & Associates, LLC, handles a full range of family law matters, including, prenup agreements, divorce, legal separation, establishment and modification of child support, establishment and modification of child custody and visitation, and cohabitation and domestic partnership documents. The law office also handles a full range of real estate transactions and trust and estate matters. She is admitted to practice in the State and Federal Courts of New York and New Jersey. Visit her at

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