Executing an Estate: 8 Key Duties of the Executor

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.

Determine Whether Probate is Required

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.

Locating and Securing the Assets of the Deceased

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.

Locating and Contacting Those Named in the Will

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.

Determine the Approximate Value of the Estate

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.

Protect Probate Real Property

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.

Pay Bills

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.  

Distribute Property & Assets to Heirs

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.

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Assistance

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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Does Your Estate Plan Need An Annual Checkup? 
No Will? There’s A Way: Florida Intestate Proceedings
Probate & Trust Administration
What Is Probate? 
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Probate 
Is Probate An Expensive Process?
Understanding Probate: An Overview Of The Florida Probate System
Should I Try To Avoid Probate If Possible?
Estate Planning Basics: Why Avoiding Probate Is Preferable
How Can I Avoid A Long, Complex Probate Process?
Are There Any Assets That Are Not Required To Pass Through Probate?
A Brief Overview Of Portability
Hollow Testaments: Understanding Florida Holographic Wills
Rule 41f And The Continuing Importance Of Gun Trusts

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES – TRUSTS:

PROBATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION – AN OVERVIEW
A BRIEF Q&A ON SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS
CHRISTOPHER D.
DOES YOUR LOVED ONE NEED A SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST?
ESTATE PLANNING FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES: SIX KEY ISSUES TO CONSIDER
ESTATE PLANNING: IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO BEGIN
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION – TIME TO UPDATE MY ESTATE PLAN
PAINLESS PROBATE
SECURE YOUR LEGACY: FIVE OFTEN OVERLOOKED QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ANSWERED BY YOUR ESTATE PLAN
SPENDTHRIFT OR DISCRETIONARY TRUST – WHICH ONE DO I NEED?
SPENDTHRIFT PROVISION: PROTECTING BENEFICIARIES FROM THEMSELVES
WHAT IS A DIRECTED TRUST?
WHY DO I NEED TO HIRE AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY?

Written by John Mangan, Esq.

John Mangan, Esq.

I’m an attorney in Palm City, FL, and I serve clients throughout Martin County, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Indiantown, as well as those in St. Lucie County, the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach County, and other parts of Florida. The Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., is an innovative firm providing estate planning services to clients in Florida. We focus primarily on wills, trusts, asset protection, guardianship, and probate administration.