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You Have Been Named Executor of a Will – Now What?

If you have been named the executor of an estate, you are responsible for overseeing the distribution of that estate. It’s an honor, but can also be an overwhelming responsibility, especially if your loved one has a particularly complicated estate.

Understanding Responsibilities of an Executor

Besides having to decipher legal terminology and be familiar with how probate works, as an executor you must be willing to travel to where the testator resided and interact with grieving family members. Other duties include filling out the appropriate paperwork and overseeing any investments.

You might have to handle complex issues regarding certain assets. Although your control does not span all of the assets belonging to the deceased, be aware that taxes might be due on proceeds from a life insurance policy that was in the testator’s name, as it is considered part of the estate. Therefore, you are legally allowed to request the prorated sum of taxes from those named as beneficiaries on the policy.

You may also need to address any potential family disagreement about the will. For example, a will might specify disparate asset amounts for various family members. In these circumstances, you must follow the testator’s wishes.

You will also be responsible for these additional duties:

  • Filing a copy of the will with a local probate court
  • Notifying government agencies, banks, and credit card companies of the death
  • Setting up a bank account for incoming funds and to pay bills
  • Filing an inventory of the estate’s assets
  • Determining if probate is necessary
  • Maintaining property until it can be distributed or sold
  • Paying debts and taxes of the estate
  • Distributing assets
  • Representing the estate in court

The assistance of an estate planning attorney will likely be helpful during this process. Losing a loved one is difficult, and being named executor can often feel complicated and confusing. A TuckerAllen estate planning attorney can provide assistance with this and other aspects of estate administration.

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