Should I agree to serve as executor?


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Have you been appointed as the executor of an estate? Carrying out your duties can feel overwhelming and sometimes like a second job. Just because you are named as the executor in a will does not mean that you have to accept the job. Only accept if you are willing and able to take the responsibilities seriously and devote the necessary time to the job.

If you accept your role as executor, there are some things that you should expect to be required to do. Take a look at these 6 common requirements before you agree to serve as executor.

  1. Find and obtain documents. You may be required to find the original will and submit it to the court. You will also need to obtain a death certificate and file that with the court. You may also need to locate other documents related to the deceased’s property and debts.
  2. Notify all relevant parties. You will be required to provide notice of probate proceedings to all interested parties. This typically includes beneficiaries named in the will as well as family members. You also need to notify all potential creditors. Depending on the complexity of the estate, you may need to provide notice multiple times throughout the process.
  3. Manage the property. Probate does not happen overnight. While waiting for the property to be distributed, you will have to manage the property. This includes paying debts or bills that come up. Of course, you will use money from the estate to pay these bills and not be personally responsible for them. You may need to hire an appraiser to value certain properties. If the deceased owned a business, you may be responsible for ensuring the business continues to run.
  4. File tax returns. Part of your job as executor is to file tax returns. There are deadlines for these to be filed and paid. Delays could cause fines, penalties and interest to accrue.
  5. Distribute the assets. When the time comes, after creditors have been paid, you will need to distribute the property in accordance with the will. This may include selling property. Document each transaction to ensure beneficiaries cannot claim any wrongdoing on your part.
  6. File documents with the court. Throughout the process, you will be required to account for your actions to the court. This means documenting interest gained on property, creditor claims paid out and property distributed. A final accounting will show that all of the property has been distributed. Once the court approves the final accounting, the estate is considered closed.

If you’ve decided to say yes to the job, take a look at the book Not Dead Yet (particularly Chapter 17) for some tips on how to be successful in your role.

Not sure if you want to serve as executor? Give us a call at (847) 770-6600 and we can help you make that decision.

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