Executors are selected to serve as the testator’s personal representative when their will is being probated. But like other estate planning duties, an executor has many time-consuming and important responsibilities. Executors must address almost 50 matters, according to an estate planning author.
Selecting an executor requires careful consideration. They must be competent, trustworthy, and able to dedicate time to their legal duties which can last up to a year.
Tasks include paying bills and collecting and distributing assets. Other responsibilities may be complex, however. Duties usually include:
- Probating the will.
- Advertising grant of letters.
- Providing notification to the estate’s beneficiaries and immediate members of the decedent’s family.
- Opening checking and savings accounts for the estate.
- Corresponding with banks for date-of-death value.
- Determining the value of securities.
- Appraisal of real and personal property.
- Obtaining three years of federal individual tax returns and cancelled checks.
- Acquiring five years of financials on business interests and all relevant agreements.
- Obtaining copies of all federal gift tax returns.
- Filing personal tax returns that are due on Feb 15 of each year of tax administration.
- Determining whether there should be ancillary administration.
- Ascertaining whether administrative costs and losses qualify for tax deductions.
First, the executor should secure all tangible property and records and assure that nobody takes these items. Next, the executor needs to participate in the funeral planning to assure that the decedent’s wishes are followed.
It may be convenient to arrange for the immediate distribution of assets at this time. Typically, the decedent’s family is in town and together for the funeral or memorial service.
After the immediate duties are concluded, the executor has to:
- Collect estate assets.
- Clean out the decedent’s home.
- Distribute tangible property.
- Pay bills. This can take up to a few months.
- Assure that the decedent’s house remains insured.
- Begin the probate process.
- Sell the decedent’s house.
Some duties take longer because of the availability of tax documents and waiting for creditors to come forward. These include filing the state tax return if it is a taxable estate, filing an income tax return and distributing assets.
Attorneys can help prepare an estate plan that meets your needs. They can also assist executors with these duties.