Being named as an executor of an estate is not a small job. Ultimately, the responsibility of the executor is to make sure that a person’s last wishes are granted, according to his or her last will and testament.
As we explained in an article on our website, the executor of an estate has many important duties. Included among the duties are:
Opening the estate. This involves filing paperwork with the county to begin the probate process, if necessary, and notifying creditors that the estate is open.
Inventorying and managing the estate. The executor must take inventory of all of the estate’s assets and debts, while also keeping up the estate up to date with payments such as a mortgage.
Paying debt owed by the estate, and collecting any money that is owed to the estate. All debts owed by the decedent must be paid off, and the executor must collect any money that was owed to the decedent at the time of his or her death.
Calculating any estate taxes that are due and paying them. The amount of estate tax that is owed can vary greatly depending on the size of the estate and the effectiveness of the estate plan in place.
Filing a personal income tax return for the decedent. The executor must file a personal income tax return for the decedent for the last year of his or her life and pay any personal income taxes that are owed. Any refund that the decedent receives goes to the estate.
Closing the estate. The executor must prove to the probate court that all of the liabilities owed by the estate have been paid.
Distributing the assets to beneficiaries. The executor is responsible for making sure that all beneficiaries are contacted and get what they are entitled to under the estate plan. Failing to do this properly can lead to a will contest.
As you can see, being an executor is no small job, which is why executors have the right to be compensated for their efforts. State law often limits the amount of compensation an executor can claim, and many times an executor’s fee is waived when the decedent was a close friend or family member.