The executor plays a pivotal role in the estate administration process. This person ensures that the wishes of the testator – the person who created the will – are fulfilled. The goal is to settle the estate, but before this person can do so, he or she has numerous other tasks to complete.
Some of those duties include tracking down assets, locating heirs, and paying outstanding debt and taxes. Since these only represent some of the duties, you need to name an executor who has many important qualities such as patience, availability, reliability, calmness and financial savviness.
Contact beneficiaries, manage assets
Here are a few of the tasks that must be completed by an executor:
- Finding and contacting beneficiaries and continuing to keep them informed on additional developments related to the estate and probate process. Communication is essential.
- Informing the Social Security Administration regarding the person’s death. If the person who died received monthly Social Security payments, the payments cease.
- Working with life insurance companies in determining whether the insurance policy is payable to the estate and distributed to beneficiaries.
- Evaluating and managing any remaining assets and eventually distributing them to beneficiaries. The list may include mutual funds and retirement investments.
- Determining a complete list of all property and assets, which may take time if the testator failed to keep solid records. The properties such as residential and commercial structures must get appraised and sold.
- Paying off outstanding debts to creditors and working with local governments to pay outstanding taxes.
- Delicately dealing with heirs. They have lost a loved one, so it is important to be empathetic. And, if disagreements surface, an executor must tactfully resolve them.
- Working with an attorney and court in settling the estate.
The executor plays a critical role in the estate administration process. It is often a thankless role, too. However, as long as things go smoothly and with minimal conflict, beneficiaries will be grateful of a job well done.