Estate Executor: Duties and Obligations
An executor is a person responsible for managing the administration of a deceased individual's estate.
Obligations can vary from state to state, and the size of the estate can determine the responsibilities that will be needed.
The executor is either named in the Will, and if no choice is left, the courts can appoint an executor.
The time necessary to complete an estate will be determined by the size of the estate and the location of the assets left in the state. An executor may be required to perform some or all of the duties listed below. :
Locate documents: The determination of a will and its delivery to the courts will be necessary. The attorney who drew the Will may have the original if a copy exists. The original should be delivered to the Court. A certified copy of the death certificate is also required.
Tax returns: The executor must file the final tax return for the deceased. Taxes may include estate taxes and income taxes.
Probate: If there is a Will, the Court will grant you Letters Testamentary. If there is no Will, you will receive Letters of Administration. The Court will instruct you as the executor when to comply with the probate.
Notice to interested parties: Notify the beneficiaries of the Will and any potential heirs. In addition, a notice for potential creditors in a newspaper near where the deceased lived should be placed.
Payment of claims by creditors: Once the creditors are identified, debts will need to be paid from the estate's funds. Liabilities can include funeral expenses, probate, administration fees and taxes, and any valid claims filed by creditors.
Distribution: Once the creditors' claims are explicit, the executor is responsible for ensuring the beneficiaries receive the assets named in the Will.
Legal counsel: Although it is not a requirement, hiring an attorney can help reduce time and exposure to liability. In many states, the executor can be held legally responsible for the value of the assets held in the estate. Many attorneys specialize in this area, and locating a competent one is reasonably easy.
Record keeping: It is essential to keep accurate records of everything you do. A final accounting to the Court and the beneficiary must be completed before the estate can be finalized. The accounting should include any distributions and expenses and any income earned by the estate since the deceased died.
Court accounting: Once the beneficiaries and the Court approve the final accounting, the Court will close the estate.
Management: As executor, you will need to prepare a list of the deceased's assets and liabilities. One of the executor's jobs is to protect the property from loss and ensure the assets are kept safe. An appraiser may be needed to provide a value of a specific asset.
If a business is part of the assets, it will also need to be managed.
The executor is allowed compensation for performing these duties.
As with all important decisions, make sure you fully understand all aspects of your decision. It is always suggested you seek competent legal and tax advice before making any important decision.
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