Posted on: 11 November 2020Share
If you have been appointed to be the executor (or personal representative) of an estate, know that it is an honor, a privilege, and an important responsibility. Many of the duties of an executor are directly connected to estate documentation. Take a look at this guide for executors that uses common estate documents to explain a range of duties to expect.
One of the first things an executor must deal with after a death are funeral and burial arrangements. Many times, the arrangements have already been made and the deceased leaves behind information about those plans. Sometimes called "pre-need" plans, these arraignments may have been funded by the deceased. Some people leave their wishes for the final arrangements in their wills. It is the job of the executor to make funds available to cover funeral and burial or cremation expenses if not arranged beforehand. In many cases, a life insurance policy will provide the means to pay for those expenses.
The Reading of the Will
Most of the time, executors already know about their appointment, but some find out when the will is read. The will should be located, if possible, but the estate or probate lawyer will have a copy of it if it cannot be found. If no will is found, the estate will still have to be probated and an executor is appointed by the probate court. Very small estates may be eligible for a quicker (or no) probate process.
Dealing With Trusts
If the deceased has a trust, a trustee will be named within it to administer it. Trusts are similar but somewhat superior to a will. In some cases, the provisions mentioned in a trust override those in the will. Speak to a probate or estate lawyer to find out more.
It's important for the probate court to know the scope of the estate, and they will request that the executor perform an inventory as soon as possible after the will is filed. Both a count of items and a valuation of larger items are part of the inventory. In many cases, several professional appraisals are required.
Taxes and Debts
The executor must see to it that a final tax return is filled. As for paying taxes, consult with the probate lawyer to find out what bills should be paid right away. Some may never need to be paid, and some have a high priority. In most cases, the IRS is considered a high-priority creditor.
Vehicle Titles and Real Estate Deeds
You might need to locate these documents when making the estate inventory, and they will surely be needed when it comes time for you to distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries — one of your final duties as an executor.
To find out more, speak to a probate attorney.