When you die, you actually live on as a "person" in the eyes of the law, and that "person" is your estate. But since your estate isn't a living, breathing human being, someone has to stand in and represent it in the real world.
That person is an executor (or if female, an executrix).
The executor has a lot to do and a lot of responsibilities as your estate's representative, and should be a mature, responsible person. He or she is responsible for probating your will, collecting and preserving the assets of your estate, representing your estate before third parties, and carrying out the terms of the will.
Main Duties of an Executor
The principal duties are:
- Locating your will and filing it with the probate court.
- Ordering copies of your death certificate.
- Gathering the documents that will be necessary to manage your estate.
- Deciding whether probate is needed and, if so, what type.
- Figuring out who your heirs are and notifying them of the pending probate.
- Figuring out who your creditors are and notifying them of your death.
- Opening an estate bank account.
- Locating your assets and preparing an inventory and appraisal.
- Protecting your assets until they are sold or distributed to heirs.
- Identifying valid debts and paying them and other necessary interim expenses.
- Preparing your final tax returns and paying any tax that is due.
- Wrapping up your affairs.
- Distributing the remaining property to the people named in your will.
This is not a complete list, as each estate is different and requires different things of its executor. But this will give you a good idea of what the job entails.
So What Else Is There?
Having a good executor is only one part of an estate plan. If you want more information about estate plans, what documents are included, and things you need to think about to prepare them, then I recommend that you download my free book, A Guide to Creating Your Estate Plan. It will get you a long way towards achieving that goal.
But if you live in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, or Cumberland counties, have decided that you need to put together an estate plan, and are ready to move forward to create one, then just click here to schedule a free, no obligation phone call to discuss it.