You may have been asked to be the executor of a friend’s or family member’s estate. The time has come for you to fulfill your role.
It is crucial to understand that you have a fiduciary duty as an executor. A fiduciary duty is a legal obligation to act in the best interest of an estate and its beneficiaries. In other words, knowing what’s asked of you is important if you’re asked to settle an estate.
However, just like many people, you may not be ready to do your duty. The role of executor can be a lot to take on, especially if this is the first time you’ve executed an estate. Here’s what you may need to do as an executor:
Locate the will and submit it to probate court
The biggest part of being an executor is locating a valid will and submitting it to probate court. The testator may have already discussed with you as to where their will can be located. A missing will can be found at a County Clerk’s office.
Collect death certificates
As an executor, you’ll likely need to contact the testator’s bank, debt collectors and other parties to report their death. To do this, you may need to collect several copies of the testator’s death certificate. A death certificate officially states a person’s death.
Locate assets and beneficiaries
You could be asked to locate assets that are meant to be disbursed to beneficiaries. You may have already discussed the whereabouts of certain assets with the testator before their passing. The testator might have also left a contact list so that you can reach out to beneficiaries.
Before this, you may need to use assets to pay off any remaining debts or taxes. Once any financial obligations are settled and assets are disbursed to beneficiaries, your role may be done. However, this can take several months to over a year to do.
Executing an estate isn’t easy. You could face problems along the way, such as discovering undue influence or a fabricated will. If there are difficulties during the execution of an estate, then it can help to learn about your legal options.