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What are My Responsibilities if I’m Named an Executor?

What are My Responsibilities if I’m Named an Executor
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If a loved one asks you to be the executor of their estate, think carefully before you take on this responsibility. While you have the option of declining the request, the person reaching out likely considers you to be responsible and detail oriented. An executor of an estate typically helps file paperwork, close accounts and distribute the assets of the deceased.

An executor (or Personal Representative) is a person who helps finalize the finances and assets for a deceased person. As executor of an estate, you will be responsible to obtain copies of the death certificate, notifying 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” looks at an executor’s responsibilities.

If you are asked and accept the position, start by finding the essential documents, like the will. As executor, you are acting in a fiduciary capacity, and your efforts are directed toward the interests of the decedent’s estate beneficiaries.

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. Please read it and make sure that you understand it.

The executor must meet some requirements 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. Depending on the state, the exact rules vary, 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 others require that you keep track of your time. 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.

Reference: US News (Dec. 22, 2021) “How to Prepare to Be an Executor of an Estate”