You may have known that you would be appointed the executor (also called a personal representative) of a friend or loved one's will; however, many don't know the full extent of what is expected of them. That's only natural since it's not a job many do more than once. Read below for a summary of the major duties of an executor.
Working With Family Members
The duties of an executor will involve working closely with the family, whether you are a family member or not. However, you will be empowered with making a lot of decisions about the estate and your actions can come under scrutiny. That is why you should depend on the help of the probate lawyer for the estate to guide you to do the right thing at every juncture.
Filing the Will
The probate lawyer will file the will in the local county probate court where the deceased resided. The lawyer may also place a notice to creditors in a local paper. Executors have no official duties until the probate court approves their appointment. However, you should be prepared to assist with burial and funeral plans. You can also begin locating important estate documents such as life insurance policies, trusts, income tax returns, and more. At the same time the probate judge is approving the executor, they are also verifying that the will presented to the court is the true last will and testament of the deceased. Most wills prepared by lawyers are legal and enforceable, but some done by hand will require more scrutiny.
Inventory of the Estate
The next major task the executor must perform is an inventory of the estate. Starting with big and valuable things like homes and vehicles, the executor should list and place a value on many items. In some cases, probate requires that a professional appraiser value the real estate, art, jewelry, collectibles, and more. However, it's not necessary to list every used item in the home on the inventory. Ask the probate lawyer for more information about the inventory.
Taking Care of the Estate
All during the probate process, the executor is tasked with protecting and maintaining the estate. That can mean having repairs made to a home that is in danger of being damaged, having lawns maintained, paying storage fees on estate items, and more. It also means retaining estate property from other family members. This can be a touchy issue, but you are bound by the law not to allow property to be distributed yet.
Other Miscellaneous Duties
- Pay bills as directed by the lawyer.
- Make the home ready to be sold if needed.
- Use estate property to pay creditors as directed by the lawyer.
- Distribute inheritances to beneficiaries as directed by the will.
Speak to a probate lawyer to find out more.