The person who is charge of administering the estate is called the "personal representative" or "executor". They mean the same thing. Because more people have heard the term executor, I will use that title for the position. The role of the executor is a very important one in the probate process.
First Steps For The Executor
The personal records of the decedent should be examined to be sure that all accounts are properly identified for administration in the estate. If there is a Will or Trust, that should be located. If the decedent had a safety deposit box, that should be opened and inventoried as soon of possible to locate any estate plan documents and assets of the decedent.
Due Diligence Required
The executor should collect the property, accounts, and personal possessions of the decedent. If the assets need to be secured or managed so they are profitable during the probate, the executor should see to those things.
The executor should contact the decedent's employer and social security administrations to be sure that the lifetime benefits are terminated and that any death benefits are applied for.
Creditors of the decedent should be notified. Anyone who owed money to the decedent should be informed that they now owe it to the estate.
When claims are filed by creditors, the executor needs to decide whether each claim is valid or whether it should be rejected. Like all of the duties of the executor, he has a prescribed period of time in which he must act.
Executor Serves As Fiduciary
The executor of an estate is what we call a "fiduciary". This means is that the executor has a high degree of responsibility to the heirs and the creditors. The executor must keep careful records of all assets and expenses of the estate. He should provide that the assets are profitably invested. A separate estate bank account should be opened. The executor cannot mix his assets with those of the estate. Except in limited circumstances the executor should not hire himself or his personal businesses to perform the responsibilities of estate administration.
Once the assets are collected, the bills are paid and such assets are sold that need to be, the executor is ready to prepare the Final Account and Proposed Distribution of Inheritances.
17 Tasks In Probate
There are 17 tasks which the executor must perform in fulfilling his duties from filing of the probate to the final accounting and distributions. As an attorney experienced in probate, I can help see that things are done as promptly and with as little inconvenience to your family as possible.
Our office has a free guidebook to help executors administer the estate. If you'd like a copy, simply call us with your request.
The contents of this video are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.