As an executor of a North Carolina will, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Chances are at least a portion of the estate must go through probate. This time-consuming process can take months or years, depending on the size of the estate and previous court cases that can influence the outcome.

Kiplinger reports that as the executor, your primary concern is protecting the estate property. There are several tasks to complete as part of this process. First and foremost, you must find the original will. It is a requirement for probate. If your loved one knew time was short, chances are they placed in a location you can access, such as a desk or file cabinet at home. If they kept it in a safe deposit box, opening it requires a court order.

The next step includes safeguarding valuables and estate assets, including the person’s home. Family members often rush to the decedent’s property with the intent of claiming particular items. Change the locks, inventory the items, remove all valuables from the premises and store them in a safe, separate location.

Obtain copies of the original death certificate. This is a requirement for financial organizations. They only distribute accounts to another individual when the account owner has died. Ordering copies from the funeral home is the easiest way to get them. They never expire and are inexpensive. Order more than you think you will need, at least 10 so that you have them if something unexpected occurs.  After six months, you must request copies from the state’s Department of Health. However, they only produce them for certain people.

Canceling credit cards, forwarding mail and disposing of prescription drugs also fall under your purview. Although there are many other requirements of an executor, these tasks can get the ball rolling.