In some states, an executor is also called a personal representative. This individual is responsible for carrying out the wishes of a deceased person and is named in the will. The executor is in charge of protecting the deceased’s property, ensuring all taxes and debts are paid before distributing or transferring whatever assets remain to the rightful heirs.
Whether it is you who is choosing an executor or you have been chosen to be one, take note that this entails a big responsibility. Therefore, accepting the role or selecting someone to take it on on your behalf is a decision that must not be taken lightly.
General Tasks of an Executor
- Acquire the will, deeds and titles, trusts, and death certificate.
- Offer/File the will in the local probate court.
- Determine who inherits the property based on the will. In the absence of one, the executor has to find out who the rightful heir is by checking intestate succession statutes.
- Pay for burial and funeral expenses using the estate’s funds.
- Locate, manage, and disburse estate assets.
- Determine the value of the deceased’s property and if any assets must be sold.
- Open a bank account for the estate.
- Pay all existing debts of the estate, as well as any remaining taxes, utility bills, insurance premiums, and mortgages.
- Notify banks, the Social Security Administration, IRS, post office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and other government agencies regarding the death of the deceased.
- Terminate credit cards and building leases.
Good to Know
- According to the law, an Executor doesn’t have to be a finance or legal expert. However, you must be able to do your fiduciary duty. This means you must be able to act with honesty and good faith.
- Being a personal representative is a big responsibility. You can be found personally liable in case you mismanage estate funds that resulted in a loss for the beneficiaries.
- Furthermore, it may take a lot of time and energy. So if you are not ready for this duty, you have the right to refuse.
- In case the person you choose as executor refuses the position, you can name an alternate executor in your will or the court can appoint one.
- You can seek the assistance of real estate attorneys, estate planning lawyers, and accountants in order to ensure you avoid legal problems when executing your role as a personal representative.