Are You the Executor of a Will? Here’s What to Expect

When a loved one passes, there’s a lot to manage. Emotions are likely to run high among family members and friends alike, and beyond the emotional fallout, there is a considerable amount of legal work to be done. That’s where the executor of an estate comes in; the executor may be named in the decedent’s Will. They may also be appointed by the court if the Will does not name an executor. If you’ve been named or appointed executor, knowing exactly what to expect can help you prepare for the job.

Immediate Obligations

Immediately after the decedent’s passing, there are a number of tasks that have to be completed to begin the estate administration process. First, you must locate a copy of the Will—if the decedent had named you as executor and told you about their decision beforehand, you may already know where it is. You must file a copy of the Will with the local probate court and notify government agencies, creditors, and banks of the decedent’s death. The executor also typically handles final funeral and burial arrangements.

Complexity of the Estate Can Vary

The amount of work you put in depends a lot on the extent of the decedent’s estate planning, the size of the estate, how involved the beneficiaries are, and which types of assets are included in the estate. A small estate with minimal debt and assets can often be closed out fairly quickly once all debts are paid and assets are distributed. A more complicated estate may include the transfer of deeds, the payment of multiple debts to a number of lenders, beneficiaries who disagree on the wording or intent of the Will, or missing assets that are difficult to locate. Working alongside a lawyer may help you know exactly what your workload is.

Managing Assets and Handling Trusts

As an executor, it is up to you to handle any trusts included in the estate and manage all assets. For real estate, this includes making payments and performing routine upkeep to maintain the property’s value. Additionally, you may have to hire professionals to valuate specific assets and sell them at a fair price.

Serious Time Commitment

All in all, it’s important to recognize that being an executor is a serious time commitment and a major responsibility. If you fail to go through the proper process, hand out assets before you’re legally allowed to do so, or fail to maintain assets during the probate process, you could be expected to pay fees and penalties out of your own pocket. As soon as you find out that you’ve been named executor, you may want to hire an estate planning attorney to help you navigate the process.

As executor, you likely have a lot on your plate. Strong legal counsel can help you work through this process in a timely manner. Get the support you need and call The Matus Law Group at 732-281-0060 to get started.