The court has appointed you as executor of a loved one’s estate. This is a significant honor and responsibility. As the executor of an estate, you are responsible for maintaining the estate, preparing it for distribution, and ensuring that distribution is done according to the decedent’s final wishes. Now that you’ve been named executor, get ready to take on these duties.
1. Locating and Caring for Assets
You must locate the decedent’s property. This involves creating a thorough inventory and getting assets appraised. Depending on the property included in the estate, assets may need to be appraised by a court-appointed professional. Once a thorough inventory of appraised assets has been created, you must submit it to the courts.
2. Paying Expenses to Maintain Assets
Assets have to be properly managed for as long as they are in your care. Protect assets against theft and secure them against potential loss. For example, if the estate includes a home, you cannot let it fall into disrepair and you must take action to remove squatters that try to establish residency.
3. Notifying Creditors
As soon as possible after the decedent’s death, you should notify creditors of their passing. Even if you aren’t certain that they have a current debt with a creditor, you should notify them. This permits each creditor to file a claim against the estate and ensure that debts are paid before the estate is distributed. Once claims come in, you can either pay them or dispute them.
4. Preparing for Distribution
The ultimate goal of an executor is to distribute assets and settle the estate. However, quite a bit of work must happen before assets are distributed. You may sell assets if needed or if requested by beneficiaries. Consider again the example of a family home. If none of the beneficiaries wish to take ownership of the home—which would require them to buy out the other beneficiaries and secure a loan in their name—the property must be sold and the mortgage paid off before proceeds can be distributed. Depending on the assets included in the estate, selling them may take time. Consider preparing assets for sale early in the process to save time later on.
5. Keeping Up With Financial Records
Without proper financial records, it’s easy for an executor to take advantage of an estate and steal from it. Because of this, the executor is required to maintain detailed records and accounting logs. Keep receipts and records of every transaction related to the estate.
6. Distributing Assets
Once your work is complete, assets must be distributed for the estate to be settled. You can file your report and petition with the court. This allows you to distribute assets, pay legal fees, and receive your agreed-upon compensation.
Overwhelmed with your duties as an executor? You’re not alone. Working with a dedicated attorney can help you meet your obligations in a timely manner. Reach out to MMZ Law at 909-256-6702 to schedule a free consultation.