What I Learned About Estate Planning from Being an Executor

By a donor from Arizona

Over the past year I’ve been the executor for two estates. One of them needed to go through probate, which required much more work. I’m grateful for the many thoughtful steps that had been taken during the estate planning stages. They saved time and made the job easier. I also discovered there were some things that hadn’t been taken into consideration. I am happy to share some of what I learned in this new role as executor. But of course, always consult your own attorney.


Help your estate executor by taking some simple advance steps to save time and make their job smoother.


One location for key information. Those designated as power of attorney and/or executor (and possibly a few other trustworthy individuals) should know where to quickly locate a folder you have created with this updated information: 

  • Location of important documents, such as your power of attorney, will, health care proxy, living will
  • Names and contact information for your attorney, accountant, investment broker/financial advisors
  • All banks where you have savings and checking accounts and their account numbers 
  • Safe deposit box information (bank, box number and where to find the key)
  • Other financial accounts such as life insurance policies, annuities, CDs and investments
  • Location of birth certificates (originals are needed in some cases) 
  • Passwords for your computer, phone and important online accounts 
  • Contact information for family, friends and beneficiaries
  • Personal instructions stating your preferences that are not in the will

Updating your will. If your will needs changes, instead of crafting a whole new one, you can sometimes make additions or deletions via a simpler (less expensive) attorney-executed codicil.  

Credit cards. If a credit card was in two names, and the primary cardholder was the deceased, once the bank is notified the account could become frozen or canceled.

Relevant introductions. Consider introducing your children and/or designated executor to your attorney, accountant and financial advisors, either in person, via video chat, phone call or a letter of introduction. This smooths the way if they have to contact them quickly for advice.

Recordkeeping. While there can be a lot to process at the time of becoming an executor, immediately begin keeping records of dates, payments, receipts, conversations, emails, advice given and important “to do” action items.


“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”



Here are some quotes that were helpful to me while making decisions and completing the paperwork and seemingly endless details.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” – Luke 12:2

“…he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”John 8:29

 “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. vii

We’re deeply grateful to this donor for sharing her experience as an executor. If there’s something specific you’d like to learn about or are interested in ways to make an impact for Adventure Unlimited with a current planned or deferred gift, please contact us at [email protected] or call 888.416.7348 x107. You can also explore this information on planned giving.

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