For many, the thought of being an executor of someone’s will can be daunting and overwhelming. It is a big responsibility, but it can also be satisfying to help carry out the wishes of your loved one. Here in this blog, we will cover seven key things you should know about being an executor of a will. But before we move forward with the duties, let’s understand what it means to be the executor of a will. So, let’s begin:
What is an Executor of a Will?
An executor is a person or entity appointed by the deceased to carry out their will’s provisions. This can include managing and distributing an estate, managing assets and property, paying out debts, paying taxes, and making funeral arrangements. The executor, or executors, must be someone with knowledge of the deceased’s affairs and the ability to carry out their wishes. This person may be a family member, friend or professional. They must be 18 years old or older and must not be a party to the will.
In some cases, it is possible for an heir to refuse to become an executor if they feel that their interests would be better served if someone else took over this role instead. You can leave it open and allow anyone to serve if they wish, or choose someone else that you trust more than yourself. If no one is willing to take the job, then the probate court will appoint an alternate executor who may be different from those listed on the original list of potential candidates.
What Do Executors of a Will Have to Do?
An executor is responsible for carrying out the instructions of a will. As an executor, you’re responsible for taking care of the administration of the estate and distributing the property according to the deceased person’s wishes. Let’s take a look at the seven primary duties of an executor:
Duty 1: Locate and Secure the Will
Your first duty as executor is to locate and secure the original copy of the will. You should keep the original copy in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box. If you cannot locate the original copy, you may need to obtain copies from other sources, such as family members or lawyers who have access to it.
Duty 2: Notify Beneficiaries and Creditors
Once you have secured the original copy of the will, you must notify all beneficiaries listed in it and any creditors to whom the deceased person may owe money. This step is necessary so that all interested parties know what assets are available for distribution and which debts must be paid before distributions occur.
Duty 3: Gather Assets
The next step is to gather all assets belonging to the deceased person. That includes real estate, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, vehicles, jewellery, furniture and any other property they own at their time of death. In some cases, this may require obtaining death certificates from local authorities or probate courts in order for banks or other financial institutions to release funds held by them on behalf of the deceased person.
Duty 4: Pay All Debts & Expenses
After gathering and identifying all the assets, you must pay off any debts or expenses incurred by the deceased person prior to their death, such as credit card bills or medical bills. This process can often take several months, depending on how many creditors there are and how complex their financial situation was prior to death.
Duty 5: Prepare Final Tax Returns
The next step is preparing final tax returns for the deceased person’s income up through their date of death. You may need assistance from professional tax preparers in order to complete this task, depending on how complex the deceased’s financial situation was prior to death. Additionally, if an estate tax is due from state or federal authorities, you must also pay it before distributions occur (if applicable).
Duty 6: Distribute Assets & Pay Beneficiaries
Once all debts and taxes have been paid, it is time for you to distribute assets according to what has been laid out in the will. Depending on how complex these instructions are, it could take quite some time if multiple trusts were set up or if multiple beneficiaries were involved with different shares of inheritance laid out in each trust/beneficiary agreement set forth in the will itself.
Duty 7: Close Estate Accounts
Finally, once all assets have been distributed according to the instructions in the will, it is time for you to close out any estate accounts that were opened during this process. It may include bank accounts created specifically for receiving payments made during probate proceedings or trust accounts explicitly created for distributions made between beneficiaries.
Being an executor of a will comes with many responsibilities that can sometimes seem overwhelming—but with proper guidance, they can be accomplished successfully! By understanding each duty outlined above and taking steps towards fulfilling those duties quickly yet accurately, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one’s wishes were carried out faithfully with respect and care!
Executors should always seek legal advice when dealing with wills so that they have proper answers regarding any particular duty outlined above. Professionals like Probate Consultants understand state-specific laws and federal regulations governing these matters! They are one of the best probate services in Victoria, Australia and have a reputation for providing fast turnaround time.