What Are the Legal Duties of an Executor of an Estate

An executor may be summoned to appear before the court on behalf of the estate. Acting as the executor of a loved one`s estate is a heavy responsibility. This requires careful organization and compliance with legal requirements. The executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. They may be held legally liable if they fail to comply with this obligation, for example if they act in their own interests or if they allow the assets of the estate to be extinguished. Plus, you probably want to make sure your loved one`s wishes are respected and carried out. This section explains the steps you can take to perform your duties as an executor effectively and efficiently. Individuals have a variety of reasons for planning an estate, including preserving family property, supporting surviving surviving spouses and children, funding the education of children and/or grandchildren, or leaving their inheritance for charity. The most basic step in estate planning is to write a will. Other important estate planning tasks include: Once the court confirms the will, it is the executor`s responsibility to collect all of the deceased`s assets and liabilities and ensure that they are reflected in the will. This includes debit and credit card statements, real estate certificates, insurance policies, outstanding debts or other legal and financial documents.

You do not have to accept the role of administrator or executor of the estate. If you refuse, a substitute or conditional executor named in the will (or an administrator appointed by the probate judge) will assume responsibility. While it`s common to be paid for this role, it can be time-consuming and emotionally challenging. It is important to have a lawyer available if you have a legal question. A lawyer from LegalZoom Personal Legal Plan is ready to help you if needed. You can move forward with confidence, knowing you have the legal advice you need. Learn about personal legal information now. While many estates are no longer concerned about federal income taxes due to the high amount of the exemption ($5.45 million in 2016), many states continue to levy death taxes on small estates. The value of the estate for death tax purposes is greater than the value of the estate (assets that are not automatically transferred to named beneficiaries); it includes all assets in which the deceased had an interest (for example, IRAs, annuities, life insurance policies owned by the deceased). In many states, the court requires the executor to provide a detailed inventory of estate assets. Even better: Explain to heirs who want to preserve their inheritance that you can`t give them their share until you settle with creditors, the IRS, and others who have a claim on the estate.

(However, creditors cannot search for the proceeds of a life insurance policy that has a specific beneficiary.) Make sure you understand the amount of funds needed to pay what is owed. Because there aren`t many restrictions or requirements to be an executor, people usually appoint a spouse, child, or sibling as executor. Being invited or appointed to serve as an “executor” of a person is a position of great trust. You are responsible for making sure: Before you dive headlong into your duties as executor, it makes sense to understand what your role as executor entails. An executor is a person named in a will to oversee the process of liquidating the deceased`s estate and distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will. One of the responsibilities of an executor is to properly notify organizations and individuals. However, this is not a task that the executor must face alone. A lawyer can be helpful for proper notification, especially if creditors or companies are involved. The executor is responsible for ensuring that all assets are included in the will and for transferring these assets to the correct party(ies).

Assets may include financial assets such as stocks, bonds or money market investments. Real estate; Direct investment; or even collectibles like are. The executor must estimate the value of the estate using either the date of death or the alternative valuation date, as required by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Another factor to consider when choosing an executor is where they live. It is much easier for an executor to perform his or her duties if he or she is close to the majority of the estate`s assets. Finally, it is a good idea to appoint another executor in case the original executor is unable or unwilling to serve as an executor. The debts of the deceased become the debts of the estate, and they must be paid before gifts can be made to the beneficiaries. (If the debt outweighs the value of the estate, the heirs are not liable.) The executor also pays estate taxes from a bank account opened in the name of the estate.

Finally, the executor must take care of the assets of the estate until they can be distributed by ensuring that the assets are well maintained and that the funds are invested prudently. In addition to certain legal safeguards, LegalZoom guarantees your satisfaction with our services and support. Since our company was founded by experienced lawyers, we strive to be the best legal document service on the Internet. If you are not satisfied with our services, please contact us immediately and we will correct the situation, issue a refund or offer a credit note that can be used for future LegalZoom orders. It is important to choose an honest, responsible and organized person. When choosing a family member as your executor, it`s also a good idea to consider the impact the selection will have on your family.