When a dear friend or family member passes and has named you executor of his or her will, it should truly be viewed as an honor. But what does it mean to be executor of an estate?
In simple terms, it means that you have been chosen to work within the laws of the state where the deceased individual resided to liquidate and close out the estate. Consider it the very last wish of your friend or family member.
Depending on the amount of property, investments and personal belongings owned, and debts to be paid, it can also be a lengthy and complicated process.
What does it mean to be executor of an estate?
If you find yourself asking that question, here are some highlights to familiarize yourself with:
- First, ask yourself if you have the time to serve as executor. Even if you were named in the will, you can still decline. Serving as executor will require time to gather and secure all property, notify beneficiaries and others that need to be notified of the death, working with real estate agents and attorneys to liquidate assets, visiting probate court and more.
- If you’re lacking in certain skills, especially organizational skills, you might also want to reconsider serving as executor. A good executor is someone who is well organized and willing to keep a record of all conversations and transactions relating to the liquidation of the estate.
- As executor, you’ll need to follow the letter of the law as it pertains to the state where the individual resided. Laws governing executors vary from state to state, so it’s best to work with an experienced Realtor and estate attorney to help you through the process. Probate court officials are also helpful in answering any questions you may have.
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward as executor of an estate, you will be tasked with many duties, including:
- Contacting probate court
- Gathering all legal documents, financial records, deeds to property, etc.
- Locating and securing all property that will eventually be liquidated.
- Paying all bills, such as the homeowner’s mortgage, utility and credit card bills, and taxes.
- You also have to file tax returns on behalf of the deceased.
- Upon approval of probate court, you may distribute the assets of the estate to any and all beneficiaries.
- Finally, you will need to return to probate court to officially close the estate. Again, depending on the size of the estate, this could take many months to complete.
While it may sound a bit overwhelming at first, it’s not impossible. Estate are closed on a daily basis in this country. If you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact The Olear Team today!