Drafting a will that instructs how your property should be distributed after your death is a smart thing to do. As part of this process, you need to appoint someone whom you trust to serve as the executor. The duties of your executor can vary depending on the complexity of your estate. Overall, the executor will manage your estate and ensure that everything is done according to the terms of your will.
Protect Property and Pay Outstanding Debts
One of the principal duties of an executor is to take inventory of everything you own at death, as well as everything you owe. For property such as cars and homes that may require periodic maintenance, the executor is also responsible for keeping these items in working order. Estate property, such as artwork and jewelry, may also require safekeeping. It's the executor's responsibility to ensure that these items are placed in a secure area. If there isn't enough cash in the estate to pay off your debts, property from the estate may need to be sold by the executor.
Estimate the Value of the Estate
After taking inventory of the entire estate, the executor must then estimate its total value. This can take some time when the estate includes rare items, such as a valuable stamp collection, that requires valuation by an expert. In many cases, the executor will need to hire professional appraisers.
Determine the Need for Probate
Many probate courts throughout the country establish a maximum estate value that can be distributed to beneficiaries without the need for intervention by the court. An executor should investigate the probate laws of the jurisdiction or to hire an attorney who can advise as to whether the value of the estate requires probate of the will.
The Executor's Job Is Done
The main reason for having an executor is to facilitate the distribution of estate property to beneficiaries as efficiently as possible. To accomplish this, an executor may need to locate beneficiaries that haven't come forward and supervise the distribution of all money and property in the manner outlined in the will. When all property has been distributed, the job of the executor is done.
A Trusts and Estates Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the duties of the executor of a will is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a trusts and estates lawyer.