Creating an estate plan entails a range of choices, not the least of which is selecting someone to oversee your estate after you die. This person is known as an executor or an executrix, and has specific duties imposed under the law. Whether you’re trying to decide who to name as your executor or have been asked to serve in the position, you’ll need to know what duties and responsibilities an executor has.
? Finding estate property. One of the executor’s primary responsibilities is to find out what the decedent owned. All the property has to be accounted for before the executor can begin giving it to new owners.
? Protect estate property. Once the executor has established what is in the estate, he has to make sure the estate property is cared for and maintained properly until he can give it to new owners.
? Managing probate. Some estate property can only go to new owners through the legal process known as probate. It’s up to the executor to determine if probate is needed and to handle the process, as well as to bring the decedent’s last will and testament, if any, before the probate court.
? Paying debts. The executor has to determine if there are any estate debts, as well as determine which creditors get paid and when.
? Notify creditors and heirs. The executor may also have to send notices to anyone who stands to inherit property or notify potential creditors. This may involve individual notification or publication of a general notice in a local newspaper.
? Distribute estate property. It is up to the executor to give the estate property away to new owners. Whether the executor uses the property to pay for estate debts or gives the property to heirs, he has to make sure the manner in which he does it complies with state law.