With greater life experience comes greater expectations. As an individual who has faced and succeeded in their share of challenges, it is natural that the people will come to depend on you. For some, this may include depending on you to settle their end-of-life affairs, such as settling their estate.
Being assigned the role of an “executor” can be an intimidating prospect, especially if you are inexperienced in law or finances. It is now your responsibility to locate, catalog and disperse the deceased’s property and assets according to their wishes and settle any outstanding debts. Are you prepared for the task at hand?
Duties of an executor
An executor has many roles and is expected to do several jobs. Broadly speaking, though, below are the 5 most common duties you will need to carry out.
Educating yourself on how to quickly and effectively complete your duties is a great place to begin this endeavor. Remember that professional support is always available if the circumstances become too complex.
As an executor you will be expected to:
- Locate Assets – You will need to physically locate the deceased’s assets. This can include checking and savings accounts, retirement funds, trusts and other bodies. Be sure to look through files for an estate planning portfolio or speak to the deceased’s attorney to gather as much information as possible.
- Close Affairs – Loose financial ends will need to be tied up. This includes canceling the deceased’s credit cards, notifying banks of their passing and informing social security.
- Pay off debts – You will need to notify all the deceased’s creditors that they have passed away and pay them accordingly. This includes income tax for the year, mortgage and insurance payments. Opening a separate bank account for this purpose is a must as the estate’s money must be kept separate from your own.
- Disperse inheritance – Any inheritor named in the will must be notified of the passing and awarded their inheritance. This can only be done after the deceased’s debts have been paid off. If the remaining value of the estate is less than what is in the will, what is left is dispersed.
- Probate and file the will – If there is any doubt to the validity of the will, it will need to be settled in probate court. This is often unnecessary if the estate has been well planned. Regardless of whether probate is necessary, you will most likely have to file the will in the appropriate probate court for record keeping purposes.
This is a broad overview of what you can expect to be tasked with after being named an executor of an individual’s estate. Each situation is different and you may have more or less duties to carry out.
It is an honor for many to be the trusted executor of another person’s life’s work. It is, also, a monumental task that can bring a lot of fear. Try not to be intimidated. No job is too large when broken down into smaller pieces.