You’ve Been Named Executor: Now What?

You’ve Been Named Executor: Now What?

Stamp and Will papers, will attorneyWhen an individual is named as the executor of a deceased person’s estate, he or she is responsible for winding down the decedent’s affairs. This includes protecting the assets of the estate, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, settling debts and paying the taxes owed by the estate, and distributing property to the beneficiaries. For those who have never executed a will before, the position can be challenging and a full understanding of the duties and liabilities of an executor is vital. If mismanagement results in a loss to the beneficiaries, the executor can be held liable.

The Duties of an Executor

The role of executor comes with a number of responsibilities.

  • Gathering important documents: The executor should gather the death certificate, the will, and any estate planning documents, vehicle titles, loan documents, contracts, recent tax forms, insurance policies, and other documents that may be relevant.
  • Determining whether probate is required or necessary: If probate is needed, the executor must file with the local probate court, prove the will is valid and present the court with an inventory of assets and debts.
  • Locating and protecting assets: The executor is responsible for pinning down the location of all of the deceased’s assets. If necessary, he or she will obtain appraisals of property.
  • Notifying all interested parties: In addition to all beneficiaries listed in the will and any potential heirs, banks and any other individuals that hold the interest in the estate will need to be notified.
  • Settling up: Once all debts have been paid, the executor is responsible for ensuring that the remaining assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes or state law.

Another important duty of an executor is to set up a new bank account. This should be used to hold any funds from income that comes in after the death of the property’s owner. All funds that need to be subtracted after the death including bills and taxes should then be removed from this separate account.

When someone becomes the executor of an estate, the position can be very time-consuming. In some cases, settling an estate can take months or even years. It may be beneficial to enlist the help of professionals, especially when the executor is inexperienced or the estate is especially complicated.

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