When someone dear to us passes away, it can be difficult and emotional for the family. Along with grieving the loss, many practical matters need to be addressed, such as distributing the deceased’s estate and assets according to their wishes. This is where an executor comes in.
Duties and responsibilities of an executor
When you die, an executor will:
- Gather assets (bank accounts, real estate, investments, personal property) and manage them throughout the probate process, which may involve selling assets, investing funds and maintaining accurate records of all transactions.
- Pay off debts that are owed by the estate, including funeral expenses, medical bills and outstanding loans.
- File all tax returns for the estate (income and estate tax returns) and pay any taxes owed by the estate, such as estate tax or inheritance tax.
- Distribute the estate’s remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in your will or determined by law.
- Ensure that each beneficiary receives the rightful share of the estate and that they carry out all your specific bequests or gifts.
- Prepare a final accounting of all transactions and provide it to the beneficiaries and the court.
Knowing an executor’s key duties and responsibilities will help you decide what qualities you should be looking for.
Qualities that make up a good executor
Here are some qualities that you might want your chosen executor to possess:
- Must be trustworthy to carry out your wishes and manage your assets responsibly
- Should be able to understand and handle financial and legal matters with care and attention to detail
- Preferably someone located close to you or have easy access to your assets and documents
- Should have strong communication skills to communicate effectively with beneficiaries, attorneys and other professionals involved in the estate administration process
- Can act objectively and fairly in carrying out your wishes and distributing your assets
In addition to these qualities, it would be better if your chosen executor is someone with whom you have a good personal relationship. They must be willing to work closely with your beneficiaries to ensure that they fulfill their needs. However, they should not have any conflicts of interest that would compromise their ability to act in the best interests of their inheritors.
To sum up, an executor is someone appointed in a will to manage the deceased’s estate and carry out their wishes. It may not be a pleasant topic, but choosing the right person for the job is something you would not want to leave to chance.