What to Know About Serving as an Estate Executor: An Essential Checklist

What to Know About Serving as an Estate Executor: An Essential Checklist

Woman sitting on hovel looking out window

What to Know Well-nigh Serving as an Manor Executor: An Essential Checklist

When a loved one passes away, whether it’s unexpected or without a long illness, the process of grieving is often tightly personal and complex. But what happens if you’ve moreover been named as the executor of your loved one’s estate? The combination of grieving – coupled with new expectations (and plane confusion) well-nigh what is required of you from a legal and merchantry standpoint – can often finger truly overwhelming. 

Serving as an manor executor while moreover navigating your emotions will inevitably have unrepealable stresses. That said, it is moreover potentially one of the most significant and satisfying roles you can fulfill to honor your loved one’s final wishes for their legacy. 

Here’s what you need to know to start feeling increasingly secure and confident in your role as manor executor.


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Understanding Your Role

As an manor executor, your primary role is to oversee and siphon out the wishes of the departed’s will. This can moreover include organizing and protecting their assets, as well as overseeing their distribution, which can finger emotionally charged and draining plane in the weightier of situations.

For this reason, many people segregate a lawyer or financial professional to act as their executor, sparing their family members unnecessary stressors. That said, many families find meaning and purpose in keeping these duties in the family. Whichever you choose, I typically don’t recommend naming co-executors or trustees, and usually suggest naming only one individual (be it a professional or family member). If you have been selected by your loved one to serve as their manor executor, here are some initial things to know that can help make your time as executor as informed and well-appointed as possible. 

Overall, an estate executor is responsible for several variegated tasks when someone passes away:

Filing the Will

Your first step as manor executor is to file your loved one’s will and provide a reprinting of their death document to your state court. Your state can help determine if probate is necessary (more on that in the next section), or what remoter legal action, if any, is needed. You may moreover need to go through a process of validating the will, which helps determine if the will is legitimate and whether any revisions of the will exist vastitude what is in hand.

Acting as the Manor Representative in Legal Proceedings

Unless the will is contested, the person scheduled as manor executor will likely be the representative of the manor until it’s been thus distributed (or until it has passed through probate). 

What is probate? Probate is the legal process of verifying someone’s will and helping to personize the named executor. If the deceased has a will that’s up to date, probate may be relatively smooth sailing. If the deceased doesn’t have a will or beneficiaries named on their financial accounts, probate can be a long and wearying legal process to personize resources and legal heirs, as well as uncork distribution.

To weightier prepare for any legal proceedings, including probate, it can be helpful to prioritize these two main steps:

  1. Take stock of what resources are misogynist and which are rumored for in the deceased’s will.
  2. Evaluate what bills and debts need to be paid out of the manor prior to distribution.

These two steps are not only the two main responsibilities of the executor, they can help you stay organized and move through legal proceedings in a increasingly timely manner. 

Locating All Resources and Taking Inventory

If the deceased has a well-organized estate, resources and inventory may be relatively easy to discover. But increasingly often than not, there’s a significant value of digging to be washed-up when looking for all of the deceased’s resources and listing them for the court. Items you’ll want to squint for in particular are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Trusts
  • Insurance policies
  • Prearranged funeral plans or payments (if applicable)
  • Property
  • Heirlooms
  • High-value antiques or belongings
  • Cars
  • Business partnerships

Notify Key Parties and Institutions of the Decedent’s Passing

Banks, credit cards, financial institutions, beneficiaries, and heirs all need to be notified that your loved one has passed away. Be mindful that once you notify a wall or financial institution, that the worth may wilt restricted. The magistrate can help you determine who, exactly, needs to be notified. This can be expressly helpful if there are any combined families or if there are questions well-nigh heirs and beneficiaries. 

Pay Ongoing Bills and Debts as Necessary

If the deceased has ongoing bills that need to be addressed (i.e. utilities at a home or property listed in the will) the manor executor is in tuition of ensuring those bills are paid until the property is distributed to the towardly heir. Additionally, if the deceased had any outstanding debts, those can be paid from their manor to move forward with the distribution of assets. Be sure to alimony a record of these expenses in the event any beneficiaries request proof.

Maintain Resources and Property Until Distribution

Similar to handling the bills of property or resources listed in the will, maintenance is moreover a responsibility of the manor executor. For example, this might include maintaining landscaping at the deceased’s home and making sure any routine maintenance is moreover washed-up so the windfall maintains its value until it can be distributed. If there are other resources that aren’t property, those can be maintained as well. This might include cars, collectibles, and family heirlooms.

Distribute Assets 

Once the will makes it through probate and all debts are paid, resources can be distributed per the will’s instructions. You may be worldly-wise to do this via check, having heirs pick up resources (or having them delivered), or having funds transferred directly to the heirs’ wall accounts. Collaborate with the magistrate and the will’s beneficiaries to icon out the best, most efficient way to ensure everything is distributed properly. 

Get Rid of Undistributable Property

When someone passes away, there is unchangingly leftover property that is not distributable or unwanted. This might be anything from house furniture to old photos. As the manor executor, you are technically in tuition of these unwanted items. It might midpoint you throw them yonder or donate them. It could moreover midpoint holding an manor sale to generate mazuma spritz from these items (if they have any value) so they can be distributed to the will’s beneficiaries (or used to pay lanugo any debts held by the deceased).

Being Scheduled Manor Executor

If you’re working with a loved one to help them set up their manor plan, or if they’re collaborating with an manor planning attorney, you may be notified in whop that you’ve been named the executor of their estate. However, sometimes a will’s “testator” (the person who created their own will but who has now passed away) may have only recently listed you as the manor executor in their will without notice.

It’s important to know that notice isn’t required for you to be named as an manor executor. However, if you finger strongly that you don’t have the topics to take on the task, or you object to stuff the manor executor on personal or moral grounds, you can ripen the role. To do this, you simply sign a Renunciation of Nominated Executor form and notify the magistrate that you’ve chosen to renounce your duties. 

Of course, if someone approaches you while they’re still living and you have reservations well-nigh stuff an executor of their estate, don’t be wrung to be honest with them. A polite but firm conversation can go a long way to clarifying everyone’s intentions, as well as prevent familial stress of trying to sort out who’s in tuition of what without a loved one passes.

Choosing an Executor for Your Own Estate

There may be few increasingly personal decisions you make in life than naming the person who will honor your wishes when you are no longer living. There are many emotional, practical, and financial considerations to make, each with their own tradeoffs. I unchangingly suggest talking with the person you’re considering surpassing appointing them as executor to make sure they are willing and worldly-wise to fulfill the duties. Whilom all, honor your instincts and values, naming only someone you are truly well-appointed with. Here are the three main factors you will want to evaluate to help you make that decision:

1. Find someone you trust 

You may know immediately who you’d trust to be the executor of your estate. If that’s the case, let the person know they’re listed as your executor, or have a conversation with them to ensure they’re well-appointed with the responsibility. This person should be someone who is tropical to you, who knows (or knows of) your various heirs and beneficiaries, and who you trust to execute your will with the intent to fully honor your wishes.

2. Consider family tensions and ties 

One factor to explore surpassing selecting your manor executor is how it will impact the future relationships of your next of kin. For example, if you are particularly tropical with one of your children, will having them as the executor of your manor exacerbate negative feelings between them and your other children? Could ties potentially be severed over such a decision? 

Hopefully, your family and friends will all work together to support one flipside throughout the process and you can select who you finger most well-appointed with. However, if you have any lingering concerns, you may want to talk with a trusted opinion – or plane your family itself – well-nigh who you are thinking of electing to be your executor to stave any long-term unhappiness.

You may moreover consider the financial undersong that the executor may undergo as they fulfill their role. Some manor plans will designate a specific sum of money to the executor for their time. This is something you could consider doing or discuss with your financial advisor. 

3. Squint to outside parties

If the whilom resonates with you, looking to an outside party may be of interest. For example, you could have your manor planning attorney, accountant, or financial counselor be your manor executor and skip over any potential relationship ineligibility among your heirs that might stem from one of them stuff “in charge” of the estate. Note that if you use a third party, there may be associated fees with hiring someone to handle your manor for your loved ones. 

Other Worldwide Manor Executor Questions

Many questions will no doubt come up in your duties as executor. This is perfectly normal and to be expected. Some will be easier to wordplay than others, but the most important thing to remember is that unnecessary uneasiness and worry well-nigh what you “don’t know” in this process will not serve you. 

When unknown questions do arise, keeping a level throne and consulting the towardly professionals will help you make the weightier choices possible. 

Here are several worldwide questions that typically upspring over the undertow of the process: 

Is a “Reading of the Will” Required? 

The “reading of the will” that so wontedly occurs in movies and TV shows is, in reality, pretty rare. In fact, it scrutinizingly never happens outside of Hollywood soundstages. Instead, depending on the state you live in, the will’s executor has roughly 60 days to inform heirs and beneficiaries that the deceased has passed yonder and that they’ve been listed in the will. Beneficiaries or heirs are often given wangle to a reprinting of the will to sieve what they can expect. 

What if Someone Disputes the Will?

Anyone can races a will if they have a valid reason or would be personally impacted by the outcome of the case. Often, siblings races a will if they finger one of their family members have unduly influenced parents or grandparents in gaining favor. Alternatively, you may see a will contested by disgruntled family members outside of the nuclear family – expressly if there are multiple marriages or potential heirs and beneficiaries with strained family relationships. 

For a will to be powerfully contested and “thrown out,” one of two things must be true:

  1. The will doesn’t virtuously reflect the deceased’s wishes
  2. It doesn’t meet legal requirements 

If a will is contested and “thrown out,” there are a few next-step options:

  1. A previously formulated will could be put in place by the magistrate and executed
  2. The state may take over resources and distribute them to heirs and beneficiaries equal to their state’s unique inheritance laws

No matter the outcome, you will likely want to consult with an manor planning shyster to determine the weightier way to navigate any contested will disputes. Because contesting a will so often involves family members, it’s moreover important to be enlightened of how family relationships can be adversely unauthentic – sometimes indefinitely – and to be mindful of deportment and words surpassing taking or saying them.

How are Estates Taxed?

Estate taxes are typically the responsibility of individual heirs and beneficiaries. However, it may be wise to understand what taxes will be owed and make a plan among the beneficiaries to have taxes withheld from and paid by the estate. This can help to ensure nobody forgets to pay their manor taxes and ends up in trouble with the IRS.

Are There Risks of Stuff an Executor?

In a perfect situation, manor executors wouldn’t have to worry well-nigh personal liability. Unfortunately, when a loved one passes away, emotions tend to run upper and not everyone acts as their weightier self. 

For example, heirs can technically sue the manor executor if they finger the executor is stealing from the estate, lightweight to perform their duties, or making unnecessary transactions with manor funds. Some manor executors who perform executor services professionally may plane have specific liability insurance coverage to protect themselves. 

As an individual executor, this may not be necessary. Instead, thoughtfully consider what risk you’re taking on by rhadamanthine the manor executor. Do your weightier to document all deportment taken, payments made, and resources stuff maintained. Work to alimony unshut lines of liaison between yourself and potential heirs – expressly if probate turns out to be a longer process than anticipated.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Being an manor executor is a significant task but not an untellable one. It can moreover bring a tremendous value of satisfaction and winnings knowing you’re fulfilling the last wishes of your loved one. Whatever emotions visit you during the process, just know that it is extremely worldwide to have a wide range of feelings throughout your time as executor and there’s no one “right way” to feel.

If you’ve been newly scheduled an manor executor or are looking for guidance on how you can set up your own estate – reach out to an Abacus financial advisor for help. We can guide you through organizing your own resources or help you sort through your loved one’s, while moreover connecting you with manor planning tribunal who may be worldly-wise to squire you plane further. With a little knowledge and support, your time as an manor executor can be tightly meaningful and well spent.

The post What to Know Well-nigh Serving as an Manor Executor: An Essential Checklist appeared first on Abacus Wealth Partners.


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