The probate process is full of many twists and turns, which can make life difficult on the executor of the will. On one side of things, it's an honor to serve as the executor of a will and testament.
Conversely, this can be a scary and often intimidating experience, as you know you have many responsibilities to ensure that the person's last wishes are granted.
Duties of an executor
For the most part, the will of the deceased will dictate the duties of the executor.
There are times when a person has a complicated will, as well as situations in which everything is easy to understand.
Some of the most common duties of an executor include:
- Finding assets: Once the executor identifies all the assets in the will, he or she is then responsible for finding each one for distribution. From there, the person must also keep the assets safe until the transfer to the appropriate party.
- Connecting with beneficiaries: There are times when the executor is also the primary beneficiary, but this is not always the case. It's the job of the executor to reach out to all beneficiaries named in the will.
- Finalizing the deceased's affairs: This means many things, such as securing any final payments due to the person, canceling credit cards and informing the Social Security Administration of his or her death.
- Paying debts and creditors: This is one of the most important parts of the probate process. Before anyone in the will can receive an inheritance, all debts and creditors must first be taken care of.
- Property distribution: Typically the final step in the process, this is when all property passes to the beneficiaries, as outlined in the will.
These are not the only tasks facing an executor, but they are among the most common. Even though things may go smooth at times, it's also possible to run into a few challenges along the way.
Fortunately, as you learn more about the probate process, you'll get a better idea of what you should and shouldn't be doing. Understanding your responsibilities will go a long way in giving you peace of mind.