Being named an executor is a big responsibility – someone trusted you to administer their estate in accordance with their final wishes, being those recorded in their last will and testament. Before you start acting, it’s important to understand what your role entails.
What is an Executor?
An executor is a person named in a last will and testament who is responsible for administering the will-maker’s estate in accordance with their will, for the benefit of the beneficiaries named in the will.
If you’ve been named as an executor, you may be wondering what your role entails. Here are the top five tips for first-time executors. Keep these tips in mind to help you perform your duties with as little stress as possible.
1. Prepare for Your Role as an Executor Before the Death
Ideally, you will be aware that you’ve been named as an executor. Before the will-maker dies, you should know the location of the original of the last will and testament and have a general understanding of their assets and liabilities, including digital assets – both what they are and where they are located. As executor, your role is to administer the assets and liabilities of the will-maker, which is very challenging to do if you can’t locate them.
2. Put on Your Detective Hat After the Death
Depending on how much information the maker of the will provided you before their death, you may need to put your detective hat on in order to discover information about the will-maker’s assets and liabilities and other relevant information.
In addition to physically looking for paperwork related to the information you need in places like home offices and safe deposit boxes, and monitoring the mailbox, you should consider information stored electronically.
3. Hire Professionals to Help You With Your Executor Role
If you’ve never been an executor before, you may be overwhelmed by how much needs to be managed. Surrounding yourself with the right people can make the process easier – you don’t have to do it all yourself.
When you hire a lawyer, the lawyer works for you – not the beneficiaries. The lawyer’s role is to protect you and advise you on what you need to be aware of to properly carry out your responsibilities. Keep in mind that you are generally permitted to be reimbursed by the estate for any fees you incur for hiring professional help, including legal fees.
4. Gather Information about the Beneficiaries
As executor, your overarching duty is to distribute the will-maker’s estate in accordance with the will. In other words, to the named beneficiaries. Because you’ll be in touch with the beneficiaries at various points of the administration of the estate, it’s important you locate them and obtain details like their legal name, mailing address, and email address. Your lawyer will advise you of any other information you need to collect.
5. Take a Deep Breath!
Chances are that if you’re an executor, you are grieving the loss of a close family member or friend. It can be a challenge to perform your duties while going through this difficult and emotional time. While you can’t wait forever, you don’t need to rush. Take a deep breath and grieve. It’s fair to give yourself a reasonable amount of time before diving into your role.
BKS Law is Here to Help
Being an executor can be a complicated and intimidating process. As experienced lawyers, the BKS Law team is here to help you through every aspect of your role.
If you’ve been named as executor and the will-maker has died, locate the original Will and obtain the death certificate, and we’d be happy to speak to you and help you through this difficult time. Reach out to us today.