Getting named the executor of a loved one’s estate means he or she trusted you deeply. It is a lot of responsibility, particularly if your loved one had a large estate. Try not to feel overwhelmed: you have some time, and you do not have to do it all on your own.

Take care of children and pets

If your loved one had minor children, you may need to arrange for their care if the other parent is no longer around. The will may have instructions regarding guardianship. However, you may need to set up temporary arrangements, like a close relative, neighbor or even yourself.

Wills do not always address what should happen to someone’s pet. Go to your loved one’s home, ensure the pet was fed recently and then try to find a temporary home for the pet. You can even board his or her pet until you figure out a permanent solution. The estate can reimburse you later for these expenses.

Keep an eye on the house

You will want to collect the mail and water any plants. Make sure nothing disappears from the house, until you have consulted the will. If you do not live close, ask a friend to do this for you.

Let people know about the passing

You could consult a cell phone or an address book to notify friends and family of the deceased’s passing. You may enlist help for the notifications.

Look for the estate planning documents

The will or other estate documents should have instructions about settling many of your loved one’s affairs. Find the latest copy, and see if there are instructions regarding the funeral service. Your loved one may have explicit instructions for the funeral. Or you may need to plan the service with other family members. Depending on his or her religious beliefs, a service could need to occur quickly.

Talk to the family about the obituary

Before the funeral occurs, you and the rest of the family should write an obituary to submit to the local newspaper and the funeral home. An obituary allows you to memorialize your loved one.

After the funeral has passed, move forward with probating your loved one’s will. Consult the will, collect and inventory all his or her assets, look for safety deposit boxes and determine all debts. You may need to get items appraised.

Before you admit the will to the probate court, consider contacting an estate planning attorney. An attorney will ensure you follow all the necessary steps to protect your loved one’s final wishes. The fees for the attorney are also covered by the estate.