If you are named as an executor of an estate, you have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. Your loved one is counting on you to carry out their wishes as set out in their will. The beneficiaries are also relying on you to carry out the valuation and distribution of property quickly and efficiently. It can be a lot of pressure, especially after you just lost a loved one.
Understanding your role and what you should do next can help you put your best foot forward to complete your duties. Once you know that you have been nominated as an executor, you need to take the following steps.
Many Wills name more than one executor so that if the first person they want to be the executor is not fit to serve, then someone else can step in and fill this role. While you likely want to step up to assist your loved one, you should consider whether you are really capable of handling these responsibilities. Ask yourself:
In some situations, such as when you are in poor health, it does not make sense for you to take on this role at all. The next named executor may need to step in.
In other situations, you might just need some additional help to carry out your duties. You can get help from other loved ones or an attorney. Having a professional walk you through the process and help you with it can save significant amounts of time and headache. In some cases, it can also prevent litigation as well.
Once you are appointed as an executor, you get access to the decedent’s property, including their bank account, investments, and physical possessions. You need to take an inventory of everything the decedent owns before you can start distributing property.
You should also get a handle on any debts that remain due and owing as well. These will need to be paid before any distribution occurs.
You are required to let creditors know that the decedent passed and give them time to submit claims to the estate. An attorney can let you know how this notice must be provided and when you can start making payments. Do not simply pay creditors as they give you claims—you should talk to a professional first.
Charles D. Stark has extensive experience in helping executors administer estates for their loved ones. He can step in to do a lot of the work for you, allowing you to focus on working through grieving the loss of your loved one. Call our office for more information or to schedule an appointment: 707-527-9900.