An executor is the person who helps finalize the finances and assets for a deceased person. As executor of an estate, you will need to get copies of the death certificate, notify authorities, such as Social Security, to stop benefits and may be involved in arranging the funeral.
You will also need to follow the instructions in the will to administer the estate.
You will organize the assets, pay off any debts, close accounts like utilities and cable or phone plans and distribute money and possessions to beneficiaries.
US News’ recent article entitled “How to Prepare to Be an Executor of an Estate” takes a look at the responsibilities of an executor.
If are asked and accept the position, start by finding the important documents, like the will. As executor, you are acting in a fiduciary capacity, and your efforts are directed toward the interests of the beneficiaries of the decedent’s the estate.
The time required to be an executor can be extensive. If you are asked to be the executor before the person passes away, ask to locate the original will. Read it and make certain that you understand it.
There are also requirements that must be met to be an executor of an estate. Anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to be an executor, even if they are named in the decedent’s will. The exact rules vary, depending on the state, so ask an estate planning attorney.
After the death, it typically takes at least six months or more to carry out all the administrative work related to the estate. Therefore, if you do not have the time, do not agree to serve as executor.
Finally, executors may be compensated for their work. Some states have commission schedules listed in their statutes that the executor can collect, while other states require that you keep track of your time and the judge will authorize “reasonable” compensation for your actual efforts.
Ask for help if tasks seem overwhelming or you do not understand certain instructions on accounts or the will. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist.