There is a reason that so much emphasis is placed on the choice of an assigned executor. The successful execution of the estate depends heavily on the assigned executor’s competency and efficiency. When considering who to name as the person responsible for the estate after you are deceased, carefully consider what will be expected of them before you make your final decision. If you do not choose and designate an executor, the court will do so for you when it becomes necessary.
Know the Roles and Duties of an Executor:
The executor needs to provide the deceased’s will and copy of the death certificate to the court. Courts generally don’t accept a copy of the will so the executor either needs to have direct access or know to contact the attorney who drafted the document in order to gain access when necessary. They also need to be able to read and understand what it contains. This portion of the executor’s job can be a lot easier simply be being asked in advance, notifying them of where to find the will, and making sure the will is clear and straightforward. If you have created more than one will, destroy any that are out of date (original and any copies). In the new will, make sure the old will is explicitly revoked.
The executor may hire an attorney for assistance with their duties at the expense of the estate. This enables you to choose someone without limiting your choices to someone with legal or financial expertise, although expertise in these areas would be useful. Many executors hire an attorney to assist them through the process of probate, understand the legal process, meet any deadlines, fulfill required obligations, successfully disburse the estate, etc. This is particularly helpful if there are possible family disputes related to the estate.
The executor must admit the will to probate. Estate executors are the individuals responsible for filing the will with the court to begin the probate process. The process can be lengthy and will include a required validation of the will, and inventory of the deceased’s estate and the paying of estate debts. Once estate expenses have been paid, any remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries as outlined in the will.
The executor of the estate is responsible for collecting and gathering any items of value, i.e. bank accounts, personal possessions, retirement accounts, etc.
The executor of the estate manages the estate’s income. If the estate is owed money, i.e. loans issued or rental income, etc. the executor manages the income until the estate is settled. They can do so personally or through hired help. As probate can take time, the executor should be aware and capable of this obligation. In some cases, it will require substantial time and effort.
The executor inventories and safeguards items belonging to the estate. All estate property must be both inventoried and appraised. The executor is responsible for making sure that the items are valued fairly before distribution. The executor is also responsible for protecting items belonging to the estate until probate is completed. This can sometimes require the executor to prevent family members from taking items that they may feel belong to them.
The executor is responsible for assessing the financial needs of the estate and verifying any expenses against the estate. Some outstanding debts may exist that need continued payment; each must be reviewed for validity. In some instances, the executor must also assess liquidity needs of the estate and act accordingly. If the estate has dependents (a minor or disabled adult, etc.), it is the executor’s job to liquidate assets as necessary in order to finance the dependents’ care until probate is completed.
The executor is responsible for paying any taxes owed by the estate and filing any federal and state tax returns.
The executor is responsible for keeping detailed accounting records – particularly when there are familial disputes that arise around the estate. Documentation should be kept of every appraisal, bill paid and penny spent or generated by the estate. This can assist the estate in moving through the court system quickly and avoid any claims that the estate was mishandled.
The executor is also responsible for notifying banks and credit card companies of the deceased’s death. They may or may not require a copy of the death certificate upon notification.
The vast responsibilities of the executor underline how important it is to choose your Arizona estate plan executor carefully. Luckily, the estate executor does not have to face the long list of duties alone. If you are an executor in need of assistance or if you need help choosing your estate plan executor, please get in touch with one of the experienced Arizona estate planning and Probate and Trust administrator attorneys at SHERIDAN LARSON, PLLC.
Information Not Legal Advice. This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.