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Understanding the Executor of Will Duties

As a legal personal representative, the executor of the estate assumes the responsibility of managing the assets and finances of an individual after their death, as part of their executor of will duties. Their duties range from managing the estate and paying debts and taxes to distributing property to heirs in line with the will’s terms.

The executor may also need to make decisions about selling property and initiating or defending legal proceedings. Furthermore, they must navigate the probate process and ensure that the estate is distributed to living relatives.

Typically, people select executors from close family members like spouses, children, parents, and siblings. However, if the executor is not a close family member, they may be entitled to compensation for their services.

Knowing the executor of will duties is critical for anyone planning their estate or serving as an executor.

List of the Executor of Will Duties: Step by Step

An executor must perform their duties diligently, impartially, and honestly, and they may also need to carry out any or all of the following tasks, among others:

File Copy of Will With the Local Probate Court

The executor is responsible for locating, reading, and comprehending the will. Even if probate is unnecessary, the will must still be filed with the probate court, and the executor will determine who inherits the property.

Notifying Beneficiaries

Another essential duty of the executor of a will is to notify all beneficiaries listed in the will of their inheritance. The executor must identify and locate all the beneficiaries, even if they are not in contact with the deceased or their family. The executor should inform the beneficiaries about the probate process and any decisions made regarding the estate.

Inform Agencies of the Decedent’s Death

The Social Security Administration, the decedent’s bank, and credit card companies are among those who should be notified of the death.

Determine the Type of Probate Required

Probate may not be necessary for certain properties, such as jointly owned property between spouses. If probate is necessary, the executor must file a petition with the court to be appointed. It is possible that an executor may feel they need the assistance of an attorney.

Represent the Estate in Court

The estate may require the executor to appear in court on its behalf.

Establish/Close a Bank Account

To manage incoming funds and pay ongoing bills, the executor should open a bank account. The executor should be alert to mortgages, utilities, and similar bills that still need to be paid throughout the probate process. Once all debts and payments are made, the bank account will need to be closed.

File an Inventory of the Estate’s Assets With the Court

Many states require the executor to submit a detailed inventory of the assets in the probate estate.

Preserve the Property Until Distribution or Selling

The executor maintains the property until distributing it to heirs or selling it. This may also, include deciding whether the property needs to be sold at all. The executor must also locate/protect all personal property in the estate and locate and secure any safety deposit box.

Settle the Estate’s Debts and Taxes

The estate must file income tax returns from the first of the current year until the date of the decedent’s death. Typically state law dictates the procedure for notifying creditors. If the estate is large enough, there may be state and/or federal estate taxes to pay as well.

Distribute Assets

The executor distributes assets according to the wishes expressed in the will. If there is no will, state intestacy laws apply.

Dispose of Other Property

The executor bears the responsibility of disposing of any property remaining after paying off the estate’s debts and distributing assets to heirs.

Executor of Will Recap

The executor of will duties may be easy or challenging to carry out, depending on the estate’s size and complexity. However, if an executor declines the position or resigns at any point, legal advice may be required. We recommend consulting with an attorney to ensure that the executor complies with their duties correctly.

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