Before appointing someone—or accepting an appointment, as it relates to the Executor of a Will, it’s important to know the duties and responsibilities that come with that role. As an Executor, perhaps the most important thing to know is that the process will take time and it will require good organizational skills. Essentially, as an Executor, you are responsible for seeing to it that all assets of the decedent are given to their new owners (per the Will’s terms), for representing the estate in probate court, for paying any debts of the estate and, sometimes, for handling the funeral/burial arrangements.
Whether you, as the Executor, are a member of the immediate family or are a trusted friend or colleague, you will be working closely with a grieving family and, in most cases, there is money involved, so patience and a good temperament are also key. In order to carry out your duties as an Executor in the most efficient and stress-free manner, it’s important to consider taking some advance preparations.
First, you’ll want to know as soon as you’re appointed, where the relevant documents are stored. These documents would of course include the Will itself, but may also include trust documents, tax records, credit card statements, banking records, funeral and/or cemetery arrangements, etc. Also, it would be in good practice to make copies of these documents for yourself and keep them in a safe location.
Second, you may want to consider going over all of the documents, in detail, with the individual who has appointed you as Executor. Remember, once your role as Executor is “activated” you will not be able to communicate with the decedent and there may be certain terms and conditions in their estate plan that are vague or confusing. Asking any clarifying questions you may have as earlier as possible, will save you a tremendous amount of time and headache in the long run.
Third, know who the other “players” are and keep good contact information on everyone. Not only will you want to know the beneficiaries of the Will/Trust, but you’ll want to know if there’s a specific accountant to assist with buttoning up financial matters, and of course you’ll want to know if the client has a probate attorney in mind who will guide you through the probate court process.
For more information on estate planning and probate matters, call the firm today and speak to one of our seasoned attorneys. (251) 621-1555