Accepting the role of estate executor
Someone you love has asked you to be the executor of his or her estate. This means your loved one wants to include your name in a will, designating you as the person responsible for handling the probate process and all it entails. Perhaps you were not even fortunate enough to learn this news ahead of time and discovered you are the designated executor only after your loved one died.
In any case, you may have a lot of work ahead of you, depending on the state of your loved one’s affairs. Whether probate is staring you in the face or you have time to consider your loved one’s request, your primary concern is likely learning as much as you can about the expectations of you as the executor.
A sweet but heavy obligation
When someone asks you to accept the role of estate executor, you can be sure it is because that person trusts and respects you. You can see your designation as a mark of honor. Administrating an estate is a heavy responsibility, one that not everyone is qualified to handle. Along with fulfilling your loved one’s wishes, you will have many other issues to deal with, including the following:
- Contacting family and friends, as well as other heirs, agents and fiduciaries
- Making or executing your loved one’s wishes for funeral or burial
- Locating your loved one’s will and other estate planning documents
- Compiling an inventory of assets, along with their values and locations, and keeping the assets safe during probate
- Gathering information about any outstanding debts, contacting creditors and paying priority debts in the proper order
- Filing your loved one’s final tax returns and dealing with any applicable estate taxes
- Dealing with any disputes or questions from family members or heirs
- Distributing your loved one’s assets according to the terms of the will
As you can see, depending on how large and complex your loved one’s estate is, it may be a requirement that you commit considerable time and energy to ensuring every step of the process follows the law and the wishes of your loved one. If your loved one is still living, the two of you may have discussions about the many things you can do to prepare and facilitate a smooth and stress-free probate. However, you always have the option of seeking assistance and guidance from an experienced legal professional.