It is flattering to be named the executor for a loved one. It demonstrates an extremely high level of trust and respect, as the person considers you capable enough to fulfill their wishes when they have passed. However, just because you have been named executor does not mean you are obliged to serve, says the recent article, “What are the responsibilities of an executor?” from Daily Local News.
Suppose you decide the responsibilities of being an executor are more than you’re willing or able to handle. In that case, you can renounce your position as executor, and a successor executor named in the will becomes the executor. If the person who named you executor did not name a successor, the court will select a person for the role.
If you have any doubts about this role, please tell the person who asks you to serve, so they can make other arrangements.
If you choose to serve, you’ll want to understand what the job entails. Each estate is unique, and its administration depends upon the assets owned by the deceased, what debts they had and their wishes for distribution.
Some duties are the same regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the estate. For example, the executor often makes arrangements with the funeral home and provides information for the death certificate. Once the death certificate is issued, the executor probates the will with the local court in the county where the decedent last lived. Most people retain an estate planning attorney to guide them through probate and estate administration.
Once the petition for probate has been filed and the court issues Letters Testamentary empowering you to serve as the executor, the administration begins. Some, but not all, of the tasks, include:
- Gathering assets
- Notifying beneficiaries named in the will
- Obtaining an EIN federal tax number for the estate
- Opening an estate checking account
- Verifying and paying the debts of the decedent
- Liquidating and transferring estate assets into the estate checking account
- Filing a final personal income tax return
- Providing an accounting to beneficiaries and distributing the estate in accordance with the decedent’s will
- Filing an estate tax return.
The executor also handles other tasks, such as selling the contents of the person’s residence and home.
The executor is entitled to reasonable compensation for their services. The amount is treated as taxable income. Determining the fee depends on the value and complexity of the estate and the amount of time it took to settle the estate. Some family members waive a fee, while others feel their time deserves compensation.
An estate planning attorney can provide invaluable assistance and prevent expensive mistakes from occurring. If the estate involves businesses, complex ownership structures, trusts, or other sophisticated assets, it is worthwhile to have the help of an experienced professional.
Contact us to review your estate plan with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.
Reference: Daily Local News (March 22, 2023) “What are an executor’s responsibilities?”
Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys