If have been chosen as an executor of someone's will, here's how to get the answers and the help you need.
The executor (called a personal representative in some states) is the person named in a will to be in charge of winding up the person's financial affairs after death. Basically, that means taking care of property, paying bills and taxes, and seeing to it that assets are transferred to their new rightful owners. If probate court proceedings are required, as they often are, the executor must handle them or hire a lawyer to do it.
Executors can request payment from the estate. The exact amount is regulated by state law and is affected by factors such as the value of the deceased person's property and what the probate court decides is reasonable under the circumstances. Commonly, however, close relatives and close friends (especially those who are inheriting a substantial amount anyway) don't charge the estate for their services.
No. When it comes time, an executor can accept or decline this responsibility. And someone who agrees to serve can resign at any time. If the will named an alternate executor, that person will take over. If not, the court will appoint someone to step in.
The main reason most people serve as an executor is to honor the deceased person's request. But the executor is also entitled to payment. The exact amount is regulated by state law and is affected by factors such as the value of the deceased person's property and what the probate court decides is reasonable under the circumstances. Commonly, close relatives and close friends (especially those who are inheriting a substantial amount anyway) don't charge the estate for their services.
Not always. Doing a good job requires persistence, and attention to tedious detail, but not necessarily a law degree. If assets must go through probate court, the process is mainly paperwork. In the vast majority of cases, there are no disputes that require a decision by a judge, and the executor may never see the inside of a courtroom. It may even be possible to do everything by mail.
An executor can probably handle the paperwork without a lawyer if he or she is the main beneficiary, the deceased person's property consists of common kinds of assets (house, bank accounts, insurance), the will seems straightforward, and good self-help materials are at hand. (One good book is
The Executor's Guide, by attorney Mary Randolph (Nolo), which guides executors through the process of winding up a loved one's estate, step by step.)
If, however, the estate has many types of property, significant tax liability, or potential disputes among inheritors, an executor may want some help.
There are two ways for an executor to get help from a lawyer:
Yes. Here are some other sources of information and assistance.
Cona Elder Law is a full service law firm based in Melville, LI. Our firm concentrates in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration and litigation, special needs planning and health care facility representation. We are proud to have been recognized for our innovative strategies, creative techniques and unparalleled negotiating skills unendingly driven toward our paramount objective - satisfying the needs of our clients.
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