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Decision to serve as executor should not be automatic

Being asked to act as the executor of an estate is an honor for many people, as it signals that the individual asking them considers them trustworthy and competent enough to see to the winding down of their estate. However, acting as the executor of an estate is a big responsibility, and those who are considering an offer to do so should think it through carefully.

What exactly are the duties of an executor? The exact process and duties depend on the state and the specific probate court involved, but there are some general things that can be said. Overall, it is the task of the executor to manage the deceased individual's property and see to it that his or her assets are given to whom they are supposed to be given to. 

One of the duties of the executor is to protect the deceased individual’s assets until they are ready to be distributed to creditors and those named in his or her will. The executor is also responsible for filing the will with the probate court, establishing a bank account to make ongoing payments to creditors, contacting government agencies and creditors to notify them of the death, and ensuring that all property is properly distributed.

The whole process of estate administration involves numerous steps, and can sometimes be more than the executor can handle in terms of the time commitment and personal investment. This is why it is important to consider carefully the decision to take the job on. Those who’ve been asked to serve as an executor do well to consult an experienced estate planning and probate attorney to have any questions answered and become more educated on the process of estate administration.  

Source: Wealthmanagement.com, “Where There’s a Will, There’s an Executor,” Hartley Goldstone, January 8, 2014. 

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