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5 responsibilities of being an executor

Being chosen as an executor means you are given a lot of responsibility. You must protect the money and property of your deceased loved one until probate is completed. If you sell assets or allow someone to tamper with them in any way, you could get in legal trouble. Knowing the responsibilities of an executor will help you decide whether you are willing to serve or wish for the court to name a new one. Here are the guidelines of being an executor.

1. Locate the will

While finding a will might seem like an obvious and simple task, it can be difficult and complicated in certain cases. If you are unsure of where your loved one kept his or her will, check any filing cabinets, desks, fireproof boxes and other areas where important documents are stored. Check to see if your loved one had a safe deposit box.

2. File with the probate court

Once you find the will, make a copy for safekeeping and submit the original document to the court. Confirm with the court that you are the executor. After you have submitted the will, probate proceedings will begin. Notify any beneficiaries designated in the will of the probate process.

3. Locate and protect assets

You will need to find assets and take a thorough inventory of them. Getting appraisals for valuable assets is important. If there are any documents that confirm the value of any collectibles or antiques, this is helpful. You are responsible for securing and managing these assets throughout the probate process.

4. Pay taxes, expenses and debt

There may be state or federal estate taxes you need to pay. Continuing expenses such as mortgage payments and utility bills will need to be covered as well. You will also need to pay any legally required debts and contact creditors about the probate proceeding.

5. Communicate with beneficiaries

Beneficiaries must be properly notified with specific documents. Sometimes, beneficiaries may become suspicious or unhappy during the probate process, especially if they are left out of the loop. Make sure that you are in consistent communication with them and conduct yourself as gracefully as possible.

Being responsible for money and assets can feel overwhelming and confusing. If you have questions about being an executor, an elder law attorney can help answer any questions you have. An attorney can also guide you through the process of declining executorship if you want to or assist you in dealing with probate.

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