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What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of an Estate Executor?

estate planning

When someone creates an estate plan, they should confer with their named executor so they understand their duties, what’s expected of them, and what the individual wants for their estate after their passing. Unfortunately, this isn’t always how it plays out. In some cases, a family member only finds out that they’ve been named executor after their loved one has passed. They may have a family to take care of, a full-time job, and other obligations—and now, a significant responsibility to their deceased loved one.

If you have been named as the executor of an estate or you’re trying to figure out whom to name in your estate plan, it’s important to know what an estate executor is supposed to do. Get the advice you need to navigate this time by calling John H. Ruby & Associates at 502-895-2626.

Why Does an Estate Need an Executor?

There are numerous factors at play in any estate, and as a result, every estate requires someone to manage it and ensure that everything runs smoothly. When someone passes away, they often leave behind unpaid debts, assets at multiple banks, and assets that have yet to be tracked down. An executor has to ensure that the estate covers unpaid debts before passing out assets and verify the worth of different assets before dispersing them.

An Executor’s Obligations

Being an executor is not a minor responsibility. Even with a small estate, serving as executor can take up a significant amount of time and energy, particularly if you have never managed an estate before. You’ll have to go through numerous steps and meet important deadlines to fulfill your duties. The responsibilities of settling an estate include:

  • Find the original will. As executor, you will locate the will and file a petition with the court asking to begin the probate process and be named as executor.
  • Handle the assets. When you’re named executor, part of your job is protecting the assets of the decedent. You must maintain them until they are ready to be distributed to the people named in their will—or, if there is no will until they are distributed as outlined in the rules of intestate succession. Maintaining the assets depends on which types of assets are in the estate. For example, if the decedent owned a home, you’ll need to make payments on it, keep it secure, and ensure that it does not fall into disrepair.
  • Manage the debts. There are numerous expenses that must be paid through the estate. You’ll be responsible for this until the assets are distributed, the debts are paid, and the estate is finished. Some of these expenses are related directly to the estate itself, such as executor fees, attorney fees, and fees paid to other professionals who help with probate. Others are the debts accumulated by the decedent. For example, this includes credit cards, medical bills, mortgages, and personal loans. The executor may also be responsible for taking care of unpaid taxes, burial expenses, and funeral home fees.
  • Settle with the court. After debts have been paid, assets have been accounted for and distributed, and all claims have been dealt with, the executor can file a settlement with the court. The court will then consider the estate settled.

Working With Professionals

As you may imagine, executing an estate can be a massive undertaking. It’s highly recommended that you consult with experts who can help you move through this process more smoothly. An experienced probate attorney in Louisville is the first person you should call, as they can take over the vast majority of these tasks and alleviate your stress. You may also want to turn to professional appraisers, real estate professionals, and financial experts who can handle the decedent’s investment accounts. Remember that as executor, you are responsible for everything that happens with the estate. If anything goes wrong, you risk being sued. Hiring an attorney is an easy way to protect yourself.

Were You Named Executor? Call John H. Ruby & Associates Now

Looking for help with your role as executor or your own estate planning needs? Let’s talk. Set up a consultation with John H. Ruby & Associates now by calling us at 502-895-2626 or reaching out online.