Becoming an executor of someone’s Will is an honour but is also a long and laborious task. The executor of a Will is legally responsible for sorting out finances of the deceased, from making sure debts and taxes are being paid on time to making sure all the instructions and duties mentioned in the written will are being carried out.
What duties does the Executor fulfil?
The entire process is long and time-consuming and can take up to months to complete.
This is the list of basic responsibilities that every executor must oversee:
Obtain the death certificate: The death certificate is a crucial piece of document that will be required everywhere, starting from banks, credit card companies, building societies, insurance companies, social security administration and more. (you might have to register for the death certificate if there is no one else to do it) After you get the death certificate, get several certified copies as well as they will require it multiple times.
Get a copy of the Will and apply for probate: The Executor is legally responsible for the Will left behind. After obtaining the copy of the will, you will need to fill it with your local Probate Court. Get an attorney who will assist you with this procedure, especially with the mandated court appearances and other court duties. Figure out whether probate is necessary as inheritance laws may allow properties to be passed without it. Also, if probate is required, you’ll need to be appointed as an executor. (You will need to file a petition, an attorney’s help will make it easier to accomplish this)
Note: Court proceedings might require the Executor to appear and represent the estate.
Open a bank account on the estate’s behalf: The bank account is used for any incoming funds or revenue. It will also pay off any type of bills, mortgages, debts of the deceased that need to be paid throughout the probate process. The Executor will have to make sure that this part is going smoothly.
Note: Some states require a detailed inventory of the assets in the probate estate to be submitted by the executor.
Ensure the property is secure and well maintained: The executor is responsible for finding and locating all personal property and assets, including safe deposit boxes, bank accounts and other financial holdings.
Distribute the estate: This is the time to contact the beneficiaries and distribute the estate, as mentioned in the written will. This will also include both physical and personal property, like the house and other assets.
Eliminate all unnecessary costs and expenses: A lot of unnecessary expenses can incur even after someone’s death. Services such as the internet, television, magazines, and random memberships might be draining money from the estate. It falls under the responsibility of the executor to make sure that these unnecessary expenses are removed.
Pay any pending estate debts or taxes: The law states that income tax is to be paid for the estate from the start of the current year till the date of the descendant’s death. Federal and state estate taxes may also apply if the estate is large enough. If the value of an asset increases, then income tax will need to be filed as well.
Note: If there is any property left after the distribution of assets, the executor is responsible for disposing of it.
We cannot sum up the job of an executor in a few steps, as every estate is different and challenging in its own way. These are simply some of the most basic steps that every executor has to follow.