If you have been chosen to oversee a friend or loved one's estate, you should be honored that you have been found to be trustworthy and responsible enough for this somber duty. The next emotion you feel, however, might be confusion and worry. While the duties of an executor (also known as a personal representative) are important, you will be working under the guiding hand of an estate attorney. You should, however, have at least a basic idea of some of the tasks to be accomplished and what will be expected of you when the time comes. Read on to learn a bit more about the major duties of an executor:
Is the job right for you? You should understand, right from the beginning, that you do not necessarily have to accept this job. You would only be doing your loved one a disservice if you accepted the job without being fully committed to it. While there nothing difficult about doing these tasks, they can be time-consuming if the estate is large or complicated. A quick consult with the estate attorney will give you a better idea of what is involved before you commit to the job. It should also be noted that, in most cases, a co-executor can be appointed to help lighten the load and spread out the duties. Whatever you do, take this job seriously, since there are repercussions for mismanaging an estate. What follows are the duties, in order of need.
Locate important paperwork: You will need to lay your hands on several important documents as soon as possible after the death:
- The last will and testament: often found in a safe place in the home, in a lock box or a safe, in a safe deposit box at the bank, or at the state attorney's office.
- Burial instructions or plans: Some people plan their own funeral and even go ahead and pay for everything. You can contact a local funeral home if you cannot locate any documentation among the other important papers.
- Life insurance or burial insurance policies: One of the primary duties of an executor is to ensure that there are funds to pay for the burial and funeral, so these types of policies will need to be located right away.
- Bank account information
- Deeds and titles
- Tax returns
- Safe deposit boxes
- Death certificates
Probate the will: Meet with the attorney for the estate as soon as possible to have the will "read" to all concerned parties and to file it in the local county probate court. It should be noted that estates that fall under a certain amount of worth may not require probating.
Maintain the estate: This entails paying certain bills as they come due (speak with the attorney about this), filing and paying taxes, having the real estate appraised, inventorying the estate, maintaining the property and keeping certain utilities on.
Dispose of the estate: Once probate has been completed, the beneficiaries may now take possession of any bequeathed property. Contact a law office like Acton & Snyder, LLP for more information and assistance.