Being the executor of someone’s estate can be considered an honor, but it can also be scary at the same time. The executor has the important responsibility of seeing to it that a person’s last wishes are carried out in regard to the distribution of their possessions and their property. When it comes down to it, the executor is in charge of making sure that any debts of the deceased person are paid off, and that if there is any property or money left over it is distributed as per their wishes.
Even though the law doesn’t require that the executor has to be a lawyer or other financial professional, it does require that all executors fulfill the duties given to them with diligence and honesty. The legal word for this is “fiduciary duty,” which means that the executor is required to act on a good faith basis according to the deceased person’s will.
The executor is not entitled to any proceeds for the property sale of the estate. Depending on which state you are in, the executor is usually only entitled to a fee as a payment for executing the will. Most states mandate that this fee be reasonable according to the size of the estate or how complex the will.
Fulfillment of Specific Duties
An executor of an estate will need to fulfill many duties depending on how complex the will is and what property and assets need to be divided. The usual duties normally include the following:
Finding Assets: The executor has the responsibility of keeping the assets safe until they can be distributed to the people named in the will or to any creditors. Managing the assets may include the decision of which kind of assets to sell and which ones to keep and distribute.
Deciding if Probate is Necessary: Probate means getting a court to decide if the will is valid or not. This decision usually depends on the state laws where the will is being administered. It also takes into account the property value.
Finding People That Were Named in the Will: The executor is in charge of making sure that the assets that were assigned in the will go to the proper person.
Making Sure the Will is Filed in the Correct Probate Court: This is required by law even if the will does not need to go to probate court.
Wrapping Up Affairs: This includes things like canceling credit cards, notifying the bank of the person’s death, and notifying the Social Security Administration if the person was collecting benefits.
Setting Up a Bank Account for the Estate: Executors are required to keep a special account specifically for the assets of the estate. Having a bank account in the name of the estate will help make paying off creditors a little easier. The funds in the account can be used to continue making mortgage payments, insurance payments, and other regular bills until the estate is settled. Final income tax payments will also be made from this account.
Ensuring That the Deceased’s Property is Distributed Correctly: Property that is named to someone in a will should be given to that person as stated in the will. Any property that is not given in the will should pass on according to state law.
If you have been named the executor of someone’s estate, or if you need to name someone as an executor, you should consult with a wills and trusts attorney as soon as possible.