When there is an Estate that needs to be settled, a probate executor is responsible for ensuring that the orders or directives left in the will by the deceased are followed out as they should be. Being elected as the executor of a loved one’s estate is a tremendous responsibility. Whether you believe that you thoroughly understand your responsibilities as executor or not, it is best to seek the legal advice of professionals who are experienced in such matters.
As regal and powerful as the title may sound, there are many responsibilities that the executor may be required to accomplish to settle an estate over which they have been named the will executor. Many of these tasks may seem overwhelming. If so, there is help you can seek from an experienced estate attorney. If not, you will be responsible for executing many tasks regarding the estate. These tasks include but are not limited to:
- Create a filing system and calendar with dates and folders to place important documents such as the death certificate and application for a federal tax identification number (EIN).
- Place an executor advertisement for people who are entitled to money from the estate and for those who may be partners in businesses co-owned by the estate.
- Gather important documents such as deeds, income tax returns, insurance entitlements, birth certificates.
- Establish checking and savings accounts for the estate.
- Identify who inherent property, valuables, etc., as described in the will.
- If rental properties are owned, the executor must make sure that insurance on properties is up to date and that buildings are not burglarized and collect rent if necessary.
- Make application for pension benefits, government benefits and any eligible survivor benefits.
- Auction assets to create capital needed for bills or other expenses associated with the estate. Be sure to have an appraiser evaluate the current market value of any asset before it is sold.
- Complete tax forms for the deceased. All tax documents for personal income are filed at the usual time but estate tax forms must be filed no more than 9 months after death unless an extension is requested.
- Prepare final accounting documents to show that the estate is settled. The probate court clerk will require this.
What Does It All Mean?
Being an executor of an estate means you are responsible for settling the estate in the manner that the decease wanted as may be described in a last will and testament. This is a great responsibility but it does not have to be shouldered alone. The best way to begin settling an estate is to seek out the services of an experienced estate attorney who can help with laws, rules, regulations and court mandates that determine how the estate can be settled.
Once you have successfully settled the estate, you must request that probate court remove you as executor.