When you got the news that your deceased loved one named you as the executor of their estate in their will, you may have been overwhelmed. You may have many questions regarding your duties, and how you can best carry out these responsibilities. Here is a brief rundown of what it means to be an executor, and of the kind of things that the court will ask you to do.
Wrapping up the estate
The executor of an estate is primarily an administrator. Their job is to ensure that the probate process goes smoothly, and that the deceased’s wishes are carried out to the greatest extent possible.
The first thing that you will have to do as executor is track down all of the deceased’s assets. This includes things that aren’t physically present in the deceased’s house, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks and other investments.
Next, you will have to give notice to any creditors of the death, and satisfy any outstanding debts that the deceased may have had. You will also have to take care of outstanding taxes out of the estate.
You will then have to distribute the remaining estate to the deceased’s beneficiaries according to the terms of their will. If they left any specific instructions, you should follow them to the best of your ability.
Standing in for the deceased
If there are any legal proceedings against the estate – such as when a disgruntled beneficiary decides to challenge the authenticity of the will or a creditor brings a writ of attachment against estate property – then it will be your duty to stand in for the deceased. This means that you will have to hire legal counsel and defend the estate like the deceased would if they were alive.
Being an executor is a big job, and your deceased loved one showed great trust in you by appointing you. You are not legally obligated to accept the appointment; but if you do, you will have the opportunity to honor your loved one’s memory by wrapping up their estate and taking care of their beneficiaries.