Are There Guidelines for Executors?
Executors of the will of a relative or other loved one have an important obligation. That person has been bestowed the job of ensuring that all assets are distributed properly, according to their wishes, to all designated heirs. The task does not end until any probate court proceedings have been concluded, a final tax return filed, and the assets fully dispersed.
The role of an executor of a will is a legal responsibility. Individuals who feel they are not capable of handling the responsibilities should look to an experienced estate attorney to help and guide them through the process. Or, the person should step down and have someone else assume the tasks.
Note also that state probate laws vary from state to state, so consulting an estate or probate attorney is a good place to start.
What is an Executor Expected to Do?
The following are the general guidelines that define the responsibilities of an executor:
- Probating or filing the Will with the Local Surrogate’s Court.
- Representing the Estate in Legal Proceedings.
In all legal matters, the executor will represent the estate in hiring legal representation and when petitioning or appearing in probate court.
- Managing Affairs and Expenses
The executor will account for all assets and liabilities to the estate. The executor’s responsibility includes paying all debts and collecting receivables while having assets appraised for their current value. An estimate of the cash needed to manage the legal and other expenses during estate administration should be established.
The executor’s attorney should contact all banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions to establish date of death values and the executor’s role is to provide contact information to the lawyer for these institutions.
In most instances, the executor should establish an estate account to receive incoming funds and pay outstanding debts of the deceased.
- Contacting the Government Institutions about the Death
Inform the IRS, Social Security, and other pertinent agencies regarding the decedent’s passing.
- Issuing Notifications
The executor must issue notification in the newspaper of the decedent’s death and send notification to beneficiaries of their interest in the estate. Executors must issue these notices within a designated time period after the death.
- Filing Taxes and Issuing a Closing Letter
The executor should file a final tax return for the estate. This filing should also include a closing letter to inform the pertinent state tax agency that this will be the final tax filing for the decedent.
- Distributing the Estate Assets
Once the process is completed, the executor will distribute all assets, probate and non-probate, as specified by the will.
About Giuditta Law Office
The proper execution of a last will and testament requires the assistance of a proven estate or probate lawyer. Professional legal guidance can eliminate confusion and potential problems, ones that may even deviate from the true wishes of the decedent.
As a designated executor, you have the responsibility to handle the affairs of the estate fairly and expeditiously. A proven estate attorney office like Nicholas Giuditta Law Office in Westfield, New Jersey, can walk you through the probate process and help ensure that every issue is handled correctly.