Being named as the executor of someone’s Will is an honor. The deceased clearly trusted you with a very important task – taking care of his or her affairs once he or she could not, and ensuring that all debts are paid off and the remaining assets and property are given to the rightful heirs. This is a big responsibility and it can seem, at times, like an overwhelming job. If you have been named executor of a loved one’s Will, there are some things you need to know about this responsibility.
Do I Qualify as an Executor?
Because an executor has to deal with laws and finances that are oftentimes complex, you might think that only an expert in these fields would qualify as an executor, but this is not necessarily the case. Anyone can be an executor so long as they fulfill what is called fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duty refers to the duty to act honestly and with good faith in order to represent someone else. This means that you must be an honest and impartial person in order to be an executor. If you feel that you have these characteristics, you can be an executor.
What Does the Executor Do?
An executor has many jobs including:
- Paying debts. The executor will have to notify creditors of probate proceedings and pay off any debts that the deceased has.
- Paying taxes. Similarly, the executor is in charge of filing the final income tax return on behalf of the deceased. This income tax return should be filed for the start of the tax year up to the time of death.
- Identifying the deceased (or decedent’s) property and assets.
- Managing the decedent’s assets and property until the inheritors can take them. This duty could include deciding to sell securities or real estate or deciding to hold onto them.
- Supervising the decedent’s property as it is distributed to the inheritors. The executor has to make sure that the property and assets are distributed to the right people according to the decedent’s Will.
- Establishing a bank account for the estate. This account will be used to store money owed to the decedent.
- If necessary, filing the Will in probate court.
- Determining the necessity of proceedings in probate court.
- Taking care of general details. This might include dealing with notifying credit card companies and banks/federal agencies of death.
As you can see, fulfilling the role of executor is no small task. If you think that you are up to the challenge, you will have many responsibilities. At times, this role can be confusing and overwhelming. If you ever feel like this is the case, you can contact a probate lawyer such as myself for guidance. I can give you the answers that you need and walk you through this experience. Even if you are not ready to retain my services, I offer free consultations, so we can meet together and discuss your situation at no cost to you. If this sounds like a good option to you, contact my office today!