Thursday, July 27, 2017
When a loved one passes away, there is no convenient checklist of duties provided to the bereaved detailing all the responsibilities that must be checked off the list. This is especially true for an executor of an estate. Fortunately, there is a relatively short list of tasks involved and a multitude of resources available for reference.
If named as an executor of an estate, the first step in fulfilling your duties is to retain the aid of a professional. Being an executor usually entails legal and financial liability. Having an attorney or planner on your side can significantly reduce the burden of the position. The next critical step for the executor is to make your position and the probate process official by producing the death certificate. It may be beneficial to have numerous copies of this document on hand, as the death certificate will be needed in multiple stages of the administration.
Third, cast a wide net. Part of an executors job is to find things: the will, insurance policies, bills, etc. Do not rush through this as overlooking what seems a small piece of information may be a cause of consternation in the future. Next, tell people you are the executor in order to keep communication lines open with all known and potential beneficiaries. In some states, this is actually a legal requirement. Finally, when dealing with taxes, enlist help. Not only are tax laws complicated, failing to file returns or intelligently handle tax liabilities may result in personal accountability to the estate.
See Top 5 Things to Remember If You’re the Executor, Glenmede, March 17, 2017.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.