Learn more before accepting the role as executor for an estate.
Someone has asked you to be an executor.
You are not quite certain what this entails.
You think it has to do with his or her last will and testament.
You would be correct.
Sounds simple enough.
According to a recent Investopedia article titled “5 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Estate Executor,” you should request more information before you agree.
What questions should you ask?
Several factors will influence the complexity of the estate.
These include types, quantity, and location of estate assets, the number of beneficiaries, and the terms provided in the last will for the administration and distribution of the assets.
Consequently, you may want to review the terms of the last will before you agree.
For example, a few red flags might include provisions for unequal distributions among children or the creation of ongoing trusts.
Saying "yes" may mean biting off more than you can chew.
How much time will be required?
Serving as an executor is demanding.
It will cost you in energy and time.
You may be able to serve now, but that could change.
You could move, get married, or have children (or grandchildren).
If you feel you could no longer fulfill the responsibilities, you may ask for another to be appointed in your stead.
Once you accept the position of executor once the last will is probated (upon the death of the testator), resigning is much more difficult.
Are there immediate responsibilities?
Often it is important for executors to act before the death of the testator.
You would need to make sure the testator is organized and is keeping a meticulous list of debts and assets.
Be sure the testator provides you with access to the any asset, document, or contact information your role will require.
You should also discuss funeral arrangements and burial or cremation instructions.
What duties are there after the testator dies?
After the testator dies, your role picks up.
You may be responsible for funeral arrangements.
Once you locate the last will, you will need to submit it to the probate court in the county where the testator was a resident.
You will need to manage the assets—including paying debts, submitting tax returns, and making distributions to beneficiaries.
Things will go much more smoothly if you are.
How will you be paid?
States have different laws governing executor compensation.
If you incurred expenses while doing your work, you may be reimbursed.
You could be expected to waive compensation.
If you are related to the testator, this is common.
Regardless, address this elephant in the room now to eliminate potential strife later.
Being named executor is an honor.
It is also a responsibility.
Do not make the decision lightly.
Reference: Investopedia (June 25, 2019) “5 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Estate Executor”