If you have been named as the executor of an estate (the Florida-specific term for this role is “Personal Representative”) by a loved one who has recently passed away, you will quickly realize that there are a lot of things you are responsible for. An executor is chosen to make sure the final wishes of the decedent are followed in regards to their estate. This is a legal obligation, and depending on the size of the estate, may take a significant amount of time and effort. Typically, this process takes place under court authority, so it is best that you consult an experienced attorney at the outset. The following are 8 of the most important duties that an executor will need to perform.
This is a decision that the executor should make only after consulting with a probate attorney. Some of the factors to consider in determining whether probate will be required is the manner in which the decedent’s assets were titled and the likely presence or absence of estate creditors.
A person’s estate includes more than just their home and other real property. It can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, antiques, firearms, and much more. The executor needs to attempt to locate all of the assets so that, ultimately, assets can be distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.
Anyone who is named in the will (or named in a trust, if one exists) will need to be located and notified that the individual has passed away and that they are named as a beneficiary. In most cases this is a very easy process, but there are times when someone listed is hard to locate, especially if the planning documents haven’t been updated in years.
Assessing the value of the estate is very important for a variety of reasons. First, higher value estates are more likely to have to go through probate. Next, the value of the estate can have a big impact on the taxes owed by the estate, and possibly the taxes owed by those who are receiving an inheritance from the estate. If there are debts that need to be paid out of the estate, assessing the value can help determine what (if anything) needs to be sold.
From the time the decedent passes away until all the assets are distributed, it is the job of the executor to ensure any probate real property is kept safe. This includes simple things like turning off the water to avoid leaks and more complex things like replacing broken windows or other damage. Any costs of protecting the property can come out of the estate itself.
Ongoing bills for the estate will also need to be paid, and that is something the executor must do. Things like the gas bill, electric bill, and more will all be paid out of the estate accounts, which are managed by the executor. An attorney should be consulted prior to paying any bills.
Once the probate process (if it is necessary) nears completion, the executor is responsible for distributing the assets from the estate to the beneficiaries according to the will or other estate planning documents. Depending on the type of assets, this can be a simple process or somewhat more complex.
If at any point you have any questions about your responsibilities or how to perform them, never hesitate to ask for assistance. Contact the Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A. for assistance with the process to ensure it is all handled correctly and as smoothly as possible.