If a parent or family member asks you to be the executor of his or her estate, you may take it as an enormous honor. As well you should; by asking you to become the executor of the estate, your loved one has shown a significant amount of confidence in you. Nevertheless, as the executor of the estate, you shoulder a great deal of responsibility once your loved one eventually passes on.
Not every executor is ready for the necessary tasks. It may be helpful to have an idea of what the expectations are of an executor.
- Marshaling assets
Marshaling assets just means that you gain control over the decedent’s property and determine what it is worth. Assets include money accounts, business interests, real estate and personal possessions large and small. To determine the worth of your loved one’s possessions, you may need to hire an appraiser.
- Understanding the will
A will is a document that names beneficiaries and explains which of them is to receive which property and on what terms. If the decedent also has a trust, the will may be relatively simple. Nevertheless, it is important to read it and understand what it says. The will represents your loved one’s final requests, after all, and as the executor of the will, you are the one responsible for carrying them out.
- Handling debts and bequests
Before you can make any bequests, you first have to take care of any debts that the decedent has left behind. This also involves filing federal income taxes. Once you have taken care of any outstanding debts, you can then start making bequests according to the provisions set forth in the will.
It is important to be aware of and follow any state laws that apply to estate administration. If you fail to do so, you may be personally liable for any mistakes or misrepresentation.