An executor is key to a successful estate plan.
Dealing with death is never easy.
Loved ones must grieve.
But life does not stop.
There are still legal issues to be addressed.
According to a recent Houston Chronicle article titled “Elder Law: Some unforeseen issues usually arise for survivors, executor” this is where an executor is important.
He or she needs to be aware, organized, and responsible.
How do you become an executor?
First, you should have been designated in the will of the decedent.
Merely being named in the will does not convey this responsibility automatically.
The role of the executor becomes official only after the will is filed in the court with a "petition" and the will is admitted to probate.
You must then sign an oath to perform your duties faithfully.
After this, you will be issued "letters testamentary" as your written authority to serve the estate.
What are some things you should do?
When someone dies, their family members will need you.
You may be responsible for a wide range of tasks from locating family to directing the body to a funeral home and determining funeral arrangements.
These may have been preplanned or prepaid.
If the decedent lived alone, you should secure his or her physical property.
This may involve changing of locks to deter anyone who had keys from stealing.
If there are valuables in the home, you should probably remove them to avoid them being stolen.
What about utilities?
Surely those can be turned off since no one is living in the home.
You should have these continued until the time the property is sold or transferred.
For mail, have it forwarded to your home or office.
Make sure the house is maintained.
If it looks vacant, it will be a target for vandals and thieves.
If you are overwhelmed or unsure what to do, you can and should seek help from an experienced estate planning attorney.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Houston Chronicle (August 15, 2017) “Elder Law: Some unforeseen issues usually arise for survivors, executor”