A close loved one has passed away and you are in the midst of the funeral, family gatherings and grieving. You are then told that you were named as the Executor over your loved one’s estate. Now what?  That was topic I recently discussed with Peter Dunn on the “Pete the Planner Radio Show” on 93.1 WIBC.

Interestingly, Peter Dunn had a friend who had just this experience recently; the friend did not know that she had been named by her mother as the Executor until after her mother’s passing. Below are a few items to consider when naming an Executor of your will.

Generally speaking, what is the Executor’s role and what are their responsibilities?

We first discussed generally the Executor’s role and responsibilities. Basically, the Executor is responsible for carrying out the intentions and directives of the deceased individual as expressed in his/her Last Will and Testament.

In order to do so, it may be necessary to “open a probate estate” with the appropriate court; dealing with the courts and the property of someone who has died can be very complicated, which is why I recommend consulting with an estate attorney. The court will provide the legal authority for the Executor to transact business on behalf of the estate of the deceased. 

The Executor marshals together the assets of the estate, pays allowable expenses from those funds, and pays creditors (including taxes if required) of the deceased that properly filed claims. Once the expenses and debts have been paid, the Executor is responsible for transferring assets/funds to the beneficiaries. The Executor is also required to properly complete and file required paperwork with the court and taxing authorities.

What should I consider when naming an Executor?

For a loved one to name you as her Executor, it meant that he/she thought highly of you and believed that you were able to take on the responsibility of carrying out their wishes after their death. He/She also knew that you would care enough about them to bring that thoughtfulness to the job.

The best practice for anyone making a Last Will and Testament is to make sure the person named as the Executor is willing, and able, to take on that role. The attorney assisting with the Will can provide a description of what all the duties and responsibilities will be to help make the process as smooth as possible for the Executor.

Being the Executor is a big job. It is something that must be taken very seriously by the named person. Typically, the Executor would hire an attorney to represent the Executor and the estate. The attorney would have the expertise and skills to guide the Executor through the process and make sure that all required tasks and obligations were performed properly.

Stream the entire "How to be the executor of a will” segment by clicking below.