VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

What are the duties of the executor of an estate?

Florida residents who are creating an estate plan may want to consider the duties of the executor that they will appoint. The first thing an executor must do is obtain death certificates so that various institutions and agencies such as banks, the Department of Veterans Affairs, life insurers and the Social Security Administration can be notified.

It is also necessary to locate the will or trust. Once this has been done, the executor will have an idea of the scope of the job as well as what professionals might be needed. An executor may hire an attorney, a financial adviser or another professional to assist with the process.

Letters testamentary must be filed if the estate has to go through probate. These are necessary to legally recognize a person as the executor. Next, the executor must locate the decedent's property. Ideally, the decedent would have made a list of these assets. The testator's attorney may have this list. The process must be complete, including paying creditors, before assets may be distributed. Therefore, executors should be prepared to turn down requests for even small items until this time. The executor must pay all the bills owed by the estate. Beneficiaries are not responsible for any debts the estate cannot pay. Executors should resist being rushed through the process by beneficiaries impatient to collect their inheritance.

During the estate planning process, people may want to talk to family and friends about their intentions. This could include making sure that the person chosen as executor is comfortable with the responsibility. This transparency may also mean there is less chance of misunderstanding the intentions behind an estate plan and less chance that family members might challenge some aspect of it. In addition to talking about the plan, it is also important to review it regularly and change it as needed since financial and family situations may change.

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