When an estate goes through probate, several people are typically involved. One of them is the executor of the estate. But what is an executor and what do they do?
What is an executor and what do they do?
An executor is the person responsible for administering the estate of an individual (the testator) who passes away. An executor can either be specifically named by the testator in a will or appointed by the court.
He or she usually serves until the closing of the estate. This can take a few months or several years, depending on the complexity of the estate and how many disputes need to get resolved.
What does it mean to administer an estate?
The administration of an estate will vary, as each estate is unique. However, the two main tasks associated with probate are tallying the assets and debts of the estate.
For assets, the executor is responsible for putting together both tangible and intangible assets, such as money, securities, real estate, and intellectual property.
The executor is also responsible for tallying the debts of the deceased – whether the debt involves outstanding credit card debt or mortgage balances, car loans, etc.
There are many other minute aspects involved with estate administration – not just accounting for debts and assets.
Obtaining the death certificate, notifying the court and certain family members are among the long list of an executor’s duties.
Advocacy to help with the process
Many executors tasked with handling the administration of an estate are often family member of the deceased. Along with spouses and children – they too are grieving. The last thing they want to deal with is the long to-do list that goes in tandem with estate administration.
Fortunately, there are probate advocates who know the law and the process and are available to help executors who need guidance and are simply feeling overwhelmed.
In some situations, disputes arise with beneficiaries or with the validity of the will – which only compounds the anxiety executors often feel.
Reaching out to a probate attorney is a good first step in initiating the process. A lawyer can offer guidance on specific circumstances.