Being named as an executor is a bittersweet honor. While earning this designation shows that someone trusts you implicitly, you only receive the job upon the death of a loved one.
Also known as a personal representative, an executor is the person tasked with carrying out the terms of another person’s will. As an executor, you will have to complete an array of tasks involved in settling an estate, including representing the estate in probate proceedings, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
At JacksonWhite Law, we recognize that executors have a challenging job. Here are some of our best suggestions for being a good executor and settling an estate as quickly as possible.
1. Be Clear on Intentions
One of the most important parts of being an executor is following the tenants of the deceased’s will. If you know in advance that you’re going to be named executor, it’s a good idea to sit down with the will writer. While this conversation can be uncomfortable, it enables you to ask questions and clear up any points of confusion. You may even want to ask about people who were excluded from the will (such as siblings or children) so you can avoid any awkward issues or surprises down the line.
2. File the Paperwork Quickly
Time is of the essence when it comes to being a good executor. After all, beneficiaries want to receive money and property in a timely fashion. It’s important to file the original will and death certificate with the probate court as soon as possible. At this point, you will receive a letter of testamentary, which identifies you as executor and allows you to act on behalf of the estate. Then, you will be able to complete essential tasks, such as canceling credit cards and turning off utilities.
3. Keep Property Safe
Receiving your testamentary letter also better enables you to protect the decedent’s property. It’s no secret that an unoccupied home can attract thieves. As the official executor of the will, you can enter the deceased’s home and secure valuables, protecting them from both criminals and family members with sticky fingers.
For best results, you should move big-ticket items like jewelry, art, and money to a safe location. It’s a good idea to photograph the inside of the house as well, so you know if anyone makes off with furniture or other belongings.
4. Pay Creditor Claims
Executors get to distribute assets like money and property. However, they also have the less enjoyable task of paying bills and creditor claims. Once the court determines that creditor claims are valid, the executor can pay this money out of the deceased’s estate. Paying these funds quickly helps ensure that beneficiaries can get what’s owed them sooner than later.
5. Communicate Well
One of the most important skills of a prospective executor is good communication. In order to manage an estate, you need to be able to communicate well both verbally and in writing with a wide range of individuals, including attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, and creditors. Additionally, executors should be able to talk in a sensitive manner with beneficiaries who might feel emotional about the death or slighted by the contents of the will.
6. Hire an Attorney
If you’re handling a loved one’s estate, you might want to hire an attorney to help you on the journey. Being an executor is a complicated job with lots of moving pieces. If you don’t have prior experience in this role, you might wind up overlooking big bills or unpaid tax debts. In the long run, creditors can come to you demanding more money than if you’d just paid in the first place. A knowledgeable estate attorney can help ensure that you don’t overlook any debts and limit liability for the decedent’s family.
JacksonWhite Can Help With The Probate Process
Probate is a complicated process, and if your the executor of the will, you’re probably feeling the pressure. Our experienced probate team can help! Located in Mesa and serving all of Arizona, contact attorney Ryan Hodges and his team today.
Call our Probate team at (480)467-4365 to discuss your case today.