I’ve been appointed Executor. Now What?


By Attorney Marc Guertin

When a person passes away, their assets and estate need to be managed and distributed according to their wishes. This crucial responsibility falls on the shoulders of an executor. An executor is an individual or a professional appointed by the deceased person in their will or by a court to administer their estate. The role of an executor is a significant one, involving various responsibilities and duties.

Initiate the Probate Process

One of the primary responsibilities of an executor is to initiate the probate process. Probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a will and distributing the deceased person’s assets. The executor must file the necessary documents with the appropriate court to commence the probate proceedings. This includes submitting the original will, death certificate, and other required paperwork.

Asset Inventory and Valuation

brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

An executor must identify and locate all the assets and liabilities of the deceased person’s estate. This involves creating a comprehensive inventory of the assets, such as properties, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and debts. The executor also needs to obtain professional valuations of the assets to determine their fair market value.

Estate Administration

Once the assets are identified and valued, the executor is responsible for managing and administering the estate. This includes safeguarding the assets, paying off debts and taxes, and ensuring that the estate’s assets are properly managed during the administration period. The executor may need to open an estate bank account to handle financial transactions on behalf of the estate.

person holding pen and paper

Communication and Notification

Executors are responsible for notifying beneficiaries and creditors about the death of the estate owner. They must communicate with various individuals and entities, such as family members, beneficiaries, financial institutions, and government agencies. Executors should keep all relevant parties informed about the progress of the estate administration process.

Distribution of Assets

One of the most critical duties of an executor is to distribute the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries according to the instructions laid out in the will. The executor must follow the legal requirements and any specific provisions outlined in the will while making these distributions. This can involve transferring property titles, distributing financial assets, and coordinating the transfer of other assets.

tax documents on the table

Tax Compliance

Executors are responsible for ensuring the estate’s compliance with tax laws. They must file the necessary tax returns on behalf of the deceased person and the estate. This may include income tax returns, estate tax returns, and any other applicable tax forms. Executors should work closely with tax professionals to fulfill these obligations accurately and on time.

Executors play a crucial role in ensuring that the deceased person’s wishes, as expressed in their
will, are carried out. They act as fiduciaries, holding a position of trust, and must act in the best
interests of the estate and beneficiaries. Executors bring order and structure to the estate administration process. They ensure that the necessary legal and financial steps are taken promptly and accurately, which helps to prevent disputes and conflicts among beneficiaries and creditors.

Marc Guertin is the principal at Marc Guertin, Attorney at Law, LLC in North Haven, CT. Visit AttorneyMarc.com. Call 203-500-0201 or email marc@attorneymarc.com to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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