If you have been named the executor of a loved one’s estate, that person is trusting you to handle all of their affairs as they would wish. It’s an honor, but it can also be a difficult task. Before someone names you as their executor, they will likely ask if it’s a job you want. Before you say yes or no, it’s important that you understand exactly what it is you’re agreeing to. Here are some of the main duties you’ll be charged with as executor. Note that these are just some of the obligations you’ll be taking on—the role can be quite extensive, and this list doesn’t cover everything.
Notifying All the Necessary Courts, Companies, Banks, Etc.
As the executor, it’s your job to file the person’s will with your local probate court, notify the Social Security Administration, contact the life insurance company or companies the person had a policy with, and speak to any other business or agency that the person had accounts with. This includes banks, credit card companies, investment companies, utilities, mortgage companies, landlords, and anyone else you may think of that needs notification. In some cases, you will need to provide an original death certificate, not a copy, so make sure you order several. Five to eight copies are generally enough, depending on how many insurance companies are involved.
Is Probate Required?
As the executor, it’s also your job to know if the estate needs to go through probate. This is where you may need to seek legal assistance. If you were married and your spouse died, probate is likely not necessary, though that’s not always the case. If there’s not a lot of value to the estate, it may also be able to skip probate. If the estate does need to go to probate, you will have to file the paperwork required to begin the process.
Handle All of the Probate Paperwork
If the estate does have to go through probate, it’s your responsibility to be there in court to represent the estate, make sure all debts are paid, locate all assets, pay any taxes necessary, and distribute any assets as outlined in the will. This is the bulk of the work, and it can take as long as a year to handle.
That’s why it’s important to have an expert assisting you every step of the way. If you’re an executor and aren’t sure how to proceed, contact the law offices of Michael F. Kanzer & Associates for professional guidance.