The Role of an Executor Explained

Being chosen as an executor of an estate comes with both distinction and complex obligations. This crucial role, appointed by both trust and legal designation, involves overseeing the final affairs of a deceased individual. At Goldberg & Goldberg, we appreciate the magnitude of the responsibility that comes with acting as an executor and are here to guide you through the process.

As an executor, also known as a personal representative, you’re tasked with the vital role of safeguarding the decedent’s assets until all financial responsibilities, such as debts and taxes, are settled. Subsequently, you must ensure the proper distribution of the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries.

Legal expertise is not a prerequisite for an executor, but adherence to a “fiduciary duty” is paramount. This duty embodies the expectation to act with uncompromising honesty, fairness, and dedication for another’s interest.

The specific duties of an executor can vary greatly depending on the complexities of the deceased’s estate and personal relationships. Standard responsibilities include:

  • Locating and managing the deceased’s assets until they are bequeathed to the beneficiaries. This could involve making pivotal decisions about selling property or financial holdings.
  • Determining the necessity of probate court proceedings. Assets held jointly often transfer directly to the co-owner without the need for probate. Furthermore, estates beneath a certain value may qualify for simplified probate procedures.
  • Identifying the rightful inheritors of property. This process can involve interpreting the will or, in the absence of a will, referring to the state’s “intestate succession” laws to pinpoint legal heirs.
  • Filing the will with the local probate court as mandated, even if probate isn’t mandated.
  • Managing everyday affairs, which may include canceling leases, credit cards, and notifying necessary agencies and organizations of the death.
  • Establishing a separate estate bank account to manage the deceased’s financial assets, such as outstanding income or investments.
  • Ensuring ongoing expenses are covered using the estate’s funds, for expenses like utilities and insurance premiums.
  • Settling outstanding debts by notifying creditors as dictated by state laws.
  • Handling tax obligations by filing a final income tax return and preparing state and federal estate tax returns for sizable estates.
  • Facilitating the transfer of the decedent’s possessions to the designated will beneficiaries or according to state inheritance statutes.

At Goldberg & Goldberg, we recognize the weight of the responsibilities that come with being an executor. We extend our professional support and legal counsel to those navigating the settlement of an estate, providing a Free Consultation to help guide you through each step. If you are facing the duties of an executor and need assistance, contact us at (301) 654-5757 to ensure that you fulfill your role with confidence and adherence to all legal requirements.

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