Have you been named an executor in a will and have no idea what it means? If yes, you must be worried if you would be able to fulfil the responsibility you have been entrusted with. But you do not have to worry because we are there to help you out. You can stand up to the task and fulfil your duties with the right knowledge and aid. So, read through and learn with us the primary responsibilities of a will executor and make sure you take care of it all. But before we get to the roles and responsibilities, let’s understand who is an executor of a will.
Who is an Executor of a Will?
An executor is a person named in the will and entrusted with the responsibility to carry out the last wishes of the will-maker. An executor could be anyone; a partner, spouse, children or anyone else you can trust to be fair and execute your will per your wishes. Being nominated as an executor is a legal responsibility that should be fulfilled with proper adherence to the governing laws. Now, for a better understanding, let’s look at the primary roles and responsibilities of a will executor.
Acquire the Will and Understand the Terms Mentioned
The first task before an executor is understanding the contents of a will. Any will contains detailed directions about the division of an individual’s estate after death. It also includes a lot of information like the properties and assets owned by the will-maker, the name of the beneficiaries, any caveats, conditional gifts, etc. So, you need to read through, understand each element and proceed with the will execution to ensure there are no gaps that might compromise the wishes of the deceased.
Notify all Concerned Organisations About the Death of the Will-Maker
Another responsibility of an executor is to inform all concerned parties about the will-maker’s death. An executor doesn’t need to undertake this task independently but hire an attorney to guide them with the notices and other formalities. This part of the process holds a lot of significance if the deceased has financial operations outside the family, for loans or business ventures. Such involvements could impact the division of assets and liabilities.
Seek the Needful Legal and Financial Advice
Being nominated as an executor doesn’t necessarily mean you are versed in all the due procedures. You might be a layman with little or no knowledge of legal or financial matters. That is why it is important to seek legal and financial help to avoid mistakes or discrepancies. For instance, if you have to submit an application for probate, the assistance of a probate consultant could go a long way. And a financial advisor could help you calculate the tax value or help pay the inheritance tax. So, do not shy away from seeking professional help when and if required.
Create an Inventory of the Deceased’s Estate
The executor is also expected to manage the deceased’s estate and ensure its proper division. To fulfil this responsibility, you must first be aware of all the assets and properties owned by the dead, whether jointly-owned or otherwise. Once you have an estimate, it will help determine if a probate application is necessary. Also, some states have a mandatory requirement whereby an executor needs to file a detailed inventory report with the supreme court. So, if your state falls under this category, you must create an inventory list while following the due formalities.
Obtain the Death Certificate and File for Probate
As the executor, you must acquire the death certificate and probate, if required. You will have to apply for the certificate with your local registry within five days of the death. Also, a death certificate is key to applying for probate. Now the question comes, what is probate? As the executor, this is a term you must be familiar with. A probate is a legal document that proves a will’s validity and ensures the estates are divided as per the wishes of the deceased. So, to fulfil your key role as an executor, i.e., division of assets, you will first need to file for probate. You can connect with our experts at Probate Consultants for all clarifications regarding probate applications.
Maintain the Estate of the Deceased till the Rightful Owners inherit them
From the will-maker’s death to fulfilling funeral requirements and the eventual division of estates, a lot of time goes by. During this period, the executor of the will is responsible for managing the estate and ensuring there are no problems. This involves basic maintenance to ensure the property is safe against theft or damage. The executor has to fulfil this role until the rightful owners inherit the estate. After that, the executor will be absolved of all such duties.
Pay taxes, Settle all Liabilities or Claims Against the Deceased
Other than the division of property, the executor has the responsibility to deal with any claims or liabilities against the deceased. This includes legal or monetary claims, debts, tax payments, business payments, etc. Before the estate is divided, all claims need to be settled. That is also why a probate application requires you to publish a probate notice in the newspaper. That way, all the concerned parties will be informed about the death and can raise their claims with the court.
Ensure the Division of Estate As Per the Will
The last and foremost and key responsibility of an executor is executing the will, i.e., ensuring the estate’s distribution per the wishes of the deceased. Once all claims are settled and probate is granted, the executor needs to foresee the rightful division of estates. And that’s how the executor will fulfil the will of the deceased.
To Sum Up
So that summarises the responsibilities and duties of an executor named in a will. All of this might seem like a humongous task, but with the right guidance and assistance, it can be divided into easy and manageable bits. So, if you have been nominated as an executor and are looking for professional aid, find it with our probate experts at Probate Consultants.