So, you’re the executor. Being an executor is a tough job but someone has to do it.
Being named as executor in someone’s will is both an honor (they trusted you to carry out their wishes) and a curse (you now have the fiduciary duty to carry out their wishes), so it’s not surprising that you might have mixed feelings about actually doing the job.
Whether or not the job is onerous depends largely on several factors:
Ask yourself, “How can I make my passing as easy as possible for my family?” That’s what our Legacy of Love program is designed to do. Save your family time, stress, and money after you are gone. Imagine:
- Did the person do a good job of estate planning?
- Will probate be necessary?
- Were their affairs organized and fully documented?
- What are the family dynamics?
- How far away do you live, especially if probate is needed?
- Do you have the time and knowledge to do the job properly?
Guess what! You don’t HAVE to serve and if you do serve, you don’t have to do it alone.
Paper Tigress is willing and able to take your place as executor of your loved one’s will. We have the experience and knowledge to handle standard executor tasks. We are also able to guide you through the process if you’d like to serve but aren’t sure how to get started.
Typical Executor Obligations
Once you have a death certificate, it is your job to notify the heirs named either in the will, or by legal default. Sometimes, the funeral home will notify Social Security, otherwise you should do that right away. Payments received after death must be returned.
This is the main, most tedious job of the executor. You will need to discover all of the assets: accounts, property, policies, valuables, collections, vehicles, businesses etc. that the decease owned in whole or in part. This can involve plowing through years of paperwork, getting clues from the mail, accessing their email account, storage units, safe deposit boxes, and, well, you get the picture.
Determine Probate Requirements
In layman’s terms, probatable assets are those that are solely owned and have no beneficiary designation. If these total over a state determined amount, then probate is needed and this creates an extra set of requirements:
- Apply for Estate EIN
- Open Estate Checking Account
- File Inventory. If probate is required, you will have a finite time in which to file an estate inventory with the court; 90 days is common.
- Complete Final Accounting
- Distribute assets to heirs
Maintain & Secure Property
Especially if real estate is involved, it is your job to maintain the property, change locks if needed, and keep insurance up to date.
Can the estate pay its debts? You may have to sell assets to cover debts and expenses. The law determines the sequence of what expenses get paid. Don’t make the mistake of distributing probatable assets before you pay the debts and expenses. It’s hard to get money back from heirs! Debtors have a specified time frame in which to make claims. Heirs are not liable for the debts of the estate.
If the will causes a trust to be created then it becomes your job to fund it according to the will.
Sell and Distribute Assets
To Serve or Not to Serve?
Deciding whether to serve as executor can be a tough decision. You may feel an emotional obligation to the deceased. In your shoes, I would ask the following questions:
- Do I have the time?
- Can I be impartial?
If you can answer YES to both questions, then it might be the case that all you need is some guidance. After all, you don’t do this every day! In most cases, we recommend using a mix of advisors. Use an attorney to answer legal questions, let an accountant prepare the taxes, and have someone (like Paper Tigress!) who has been through the process on call to meet with you, deal with most of the paperwork, and guide you step-by-step so you don’t feel the full brunt of the burden you have taken on.
If NO is your unequivocal answer, then you need to consider the toll it will take on you and your relationships if you commit to the job. If you decide to renounce, then give us a call. We can either serve in your stead or guide you to find others who can do so, depending on location and situation.
Either way, our promise is confidentiality, sensitivity, calmness, and fairness.
Thinking About Giving it a Try On Your Own?
Download our free checklist and find out! The Paper Tigress Executor Guide lists the basic requirements of a well-documented estate so you can see what you’re missing or pat yourself on the back if you’ve already planned for it all.