Important Tips for Executor of an Estate
April 12, 2022
Dealing with the loss of someone you care about is never easy, especially when you also have a duty to carry out the decedent’s instructions to manage their affairs and wishes. Being appointed as an executor of an estate means that you need to take on significant responsibilities when the person who you named as the executor dies. One of the responsibilities of an executor of an estate is to protect the deceased person’s assets and act in the best interests of the estate. Failure to do so may result in the executor’s personal liability.
At Northwest Elder Law Center, Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning assists clients at every stage of the probate and estate administration and helps them take the necessary steps to stay on track. With extensive experience in all aspects of comprehensive estate planning, Mr. Taylor-Manning serves clients in Kennewick, Washington, as well as Walla Walla, Richland, Pasco, and Portland, Oregon, and surrounding areas.
Important Tips for the Executor of the Estate
When a person dies, the court will appoint an executor of the estate. If the person is named in the Will, they are usually called the Personal Representative. If there was no Will, the person is usually called the Administrator. One important thing that happens after the court signs the order is that the person in charge of the estate will receive an important document. A Personal Representative receives "Letters of Administration" from the court, while an Administrator receives "Letters of Administration." These "Letters" often simplify tasks since banks and other financial institutions recognize them and respond more quickly.
Once the estate administration process begins, the executor of the estate must take the following steps:
Gain control over the decedent’s assets. The executor must ensure that all assets in the estate are accounted for and kept safe and secure. This can be done by gaining control over the assets, including changing any locks.
Notify the benefices, insurance companies, creditors, and other interested parties. Requirements for notifying interested parties after the death varies from one state to another. If you were appointed to serve as an executor of an estate, speak with an attorney to help you send proper notifications.
Inventory the decedent’s assets for the court. Another step to take as an executor of an estate is compiling an inventory of assets for probate purposes.
Gather important documentation. Some of the documents the executor needs to gather include a death certificate, a copy of the trust and/or will, and a legal pronouncement of death, among others.
Make decisions about selling or liquidating assets. One of the things an executor of an estate must do is decide whether or not to sell the assets. You are obligated to do what is in the best interest of the estate and all the beneficiaries - not just some of them.
Deal with creditor claims. Another step in the estate administration process is dealing with creditor claims before transferring any assets to the beneficiaries. Sometimes, the executor may need to sell certain assets to pay creditors.
File taxes. The executor of an estate must file the income tax returns on behalf of the decedent as well as the estate’s income and estate tax returns. In Washington, very few people are required to file estate tax returns.
Submit final accounting to the court. Final accounting filed with the court must include the distributions made to the beneficiaries, details about the sale of assets (if any), payments made by the estate to cover expenses or pay debts, and other information. If you have been granted non-intervention powers by the person making the Will, you may not need to have a court hearing for the final report to be approved.
Depending on the complexity and size of the estate, the estate administration process could take from several months to a few years. The length of the process also depends on the number of tax issues and heirs and whether or not there are any contested issues, among other variables.
Hire an Estate Administration Attorney
Many people who are appointed as executors of an estate choose to seek legal counsel to help them navigate the estate administration process. At Northwest Elder Law Center, Attorney Taylor-Manning assists individuals and families throughout the estate administration process, from the inventory of the assets and preparation of the necessary documentation to submit a final accounting to the court. Other things an attorney does to help clients with the process include:
Advising an executor about their duties
Helping the executor settle probate matters
Assisting the executor with the distribution process
Helping deal with any complications that may arise during the process
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), it is wise to hire an attorney for at least an initial consultation. The estate administration attorneys at Northwest Elder Law Center help their clients make sound decisions during these stressful and confusing times.
How Northwest Elder Law Center Can Help
Many people who are appointed as executors of an estate are devastated by the loss of a loved one. On top of that, they are responsible for managing the administration of the deceased individual’s estate. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has extensive experience in estate administration and assisting clients with all aspects of managing the administration of a deceased individual’s estate. Get a case review with an attorney at Northwest Elder Law Center to discuss how an estate administration attorney can help.