If you have been asked by a loved one to be the executor of their estate you might be wondering what your eventual responsibilities will be. In the most basic sense, you will be responsible for ensuring that property and possessions are distributed according to someone’s will.
While it can be an honorable position, it can also be extremely stressful to deal with the role’s responsibilities during a period of grief. Tempers run hot and old grievances can rear their head. Before committing, make sure you are up to the task. Even the logistics of handling the deceased’s current bills and final income taxes will fall to you. The basic duties of an executor are outlined below.
Finding assets: You would be responsible for locating and keeping tabs on assets until they can be distributed. This can also include deciding which assets to keep and which to sell.
Probate: This is the process of having a court determine if a will is valid. In some cases probate is not necessary. In California, if the value of the estate is less than $150,000 probate may not be needed, but if real property is involved, such as a home, probate is required.
Locating inheritance beneficiaries: You would need to find and contact anyone named in the will.
Setting up an estate bank account: The money in the estate needs to be kept separate from your personal money. This bank account will be used to pay any expenses for the estate and hold the remainder of the funds until the estate is finalized.
Handling estate finances: This includes using the money from the estate bank account to pay off any debts against the estate, and continuing any necessary payments, such as a mortgage or utilities until the estate is finalized.
Paying final income taxes: You are responsible for making sure income taxes for the deceased are paid for the last year they were alive.
Ensuring property distribution: The most well know aspect of an executor’s role, the distribution of the deceased’s property in accordance of their will.
An executor is entrusted with the large responsibility of quite literally carrying out the last wishes of the deceased. The role requires honesty, at times a thick skin, and accountability to finalize the deceased’s estate.