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What are my responsibilities as an executor?

If you have been named as the executor for a New York resident's estate, you may have a lot of questions about your personal role. How do you comply with legal regulations regarding the execution of your loved one's estate? Who can you turn to during this difficult time? An experienced legal team can often help executors & fiduciaries learn more about their legal responsibilities, ensuring their compliance with state law and expediting the process.

Fiduciaries are responsible for collecting and managing assets that are associated with the estate. In some instances, the executor opens a checking account for the estate, allowing for the estate funds to be kept separate from other personal financial holdings. The executor and fiduciary must maintain exacting records to carefully track every asset, including the separation of income and principal.

So, what types of assets will you be handling? Assets included in the decedent's estate may be considered personal property, or that which is not categorized as real estate. Personal property includes insurance policies, financial holdings and bank accounts. Property can also be jointly held, which adds an extra layer of complexity into the execution of the estate.

What happens after the assets are identified? The executor must determine whether the probate court is necessary to confirm the validity of the decedent's will. The executor is also responsible for making sure that all legal paperwork is appropriately filed in probate court in New York. This person will use assets to pay off debts and creditors, and the deceased person's personal assets will then be distributed to heirs according to either the estate planning documents or rules of the state.

Executing wills is no small matter. In fact, it can be difficult for the layperson to understand. A team of financial and legal professionals may provide the assistance needed for an executor to properly perform his or her duties.

Source: New York State Unified Court System, "Fiduciary Responsibilities" Sep. 08, 2014

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