Friday, March 4, 2016

The Many Hats of the Executor

Have you been named as the executor of an estate in the Last Will and Testament of the deceased?  If so, be prepared.  Being the executor of an estate can be very demanding. Normally the executor is chosen because of their close relationship with the deceased. Why? As the name suggests, the executor executes the final affairs of the individual that has passed away.  The executor is someone who the deceased trusted, and this is someone with the fiduciary duty to uphold the final wishes of the deceased.

The following is a brief listing of the duties of the executor:

File a petition in Surrogate’s Court to probate the Will of the decedent.  Every Will must be probated in the county where the decedent was domiciled or where the decedent owned real estate.  The probate process ensures that the Will is in fact valid, meaning it was executed by the decedent, and all interests of any potential heirs are protected.  The gathering of all the documents required by the Surrogate’s Court in order to probate a Will can be burdensome and tedious.
Once you are officially appointed as the executor of the estate, you must open an estate bank account in which all income/monies of the estate would need to be held.  This includes any and all rental income, retirement income, dividends, and other assets.
From that estate bank account, you will have to pay any and all debts of the decedent/estate as they come due.  The executor is normally charged with the responsibility to contact all creditors and notify them about the passing of the individual and proceed with paying off their unsubstantiated debt.  The fiduciary may be in a situation where there are utility bills, and operating expenses under the estate. The executor would need to use the funds from the estate to pay off these expenses.
Pay taxes on Form 1041 or Form 706: Usually a tax return may need to be filed on the state and federal level.  Also, if the estate is big enough, an estate tax return may need to be filed.
Manage, distribute, and supervise the assets: The executor may be given the responsibility to manage the assets under the estate and distribute them to the rightful beneficiaries. In some situations, there may be a guardianship in place for a mentally challenged relative. The executor would be given the duty to ensure the mentally challenged relative is given the monies required for them to maintain their original lifestyle that was once provided by the deceased.
Being an executor can be a full time job.  If you are an executor in NYC and you need assistance in managing an estate, you should consider hiring an experienced New York probate attorney.  An estate lawyer can handle all of the aforementioned items on your behalf.

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