Your parents are updating their wills and possibly their trust documents, and they ask you a huge question: “Will you be the executor of our estate?” You may be honored and flattered that they trust you enough to give you that responsibility, but you may also be petrified because you do not know what it entails, and it sounds like it could be too much responsibility.
What Does an Executor Do?
The primary role of an executor is to watch over a deceased person’s assets while appropriate payments are made to settle the estate, including handling unpaid debts and taxes. Then, after paying all amounts owed, an executor makes sure that assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries.
As an executor you do not need to have legal or financial expertise, but you do have a “fiduciary duty.” This means you are committing to carry out your responsibilities with honesty, fairness, and diligence on behalf of the deceased party. Typical tasks for an executor include the following:
As you go through each step, consult with legal or tax professionals as appropriate.
The time it will take to address all the items mentioned will vary depending on the complexity of the situation. The average estate administration can take many hours and take up to a year or more, so be aware of what you’re committing to before you accept the responsibility.
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