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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Friday, July 19, 2013

Serving as Executor

Every Will names one, or sometimes two, people as Executor.  This person is then responsible for taking charge of the deceased person’s assets, paying debts, and distributing the property to the beneficiaries to close down the decedent’s estate.  While the executor is oftentimes a beneficiary of the Will, he or she must treat all beneficiaries fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Will.
So what exactly do you have to do if you’ve been named executor?  First, you must obtain the original, signed Will and other important documents, such as certified copies of the Death Certificate.  Then the executor must notify everyone who has an interest in the estate or has been named as a beneficiary in the Will.  This includes anyone who has been disinherited from the will.
The executor must take steps to secure all assets and get their value at the date of death.  Assets of an estate include all real and personal property owned by the decedent.  Commonly overlooked assets include stocks, bonds, pension funds, safety deposit boxes, and work-related life insurance or survivor benefits.  The executor must also compile a list of the decedent’s debts, including credit cards, loan payments, and mortgages.  All of the decedent’s creditors must be notified and given the opportunity to make a claim against the estate.
Once values are obtained, the executor must file all tax returns, including federal and state income tax returns.  Additional tasks can include notifying carriers for homeowner’s and auto insurance policies and initiating claims on life insurance.
Fortunately, as executor you are entitled to find an estate administration attorney to help guide you through this process.  The attorney knows everything that needs to be accounted for, and how some of the more complicated processes of closing an estate, like probate, works.  This attorney will then be paid for by the estate and not out of your own pocket.  Also, serving as executor entitles you to compensation for your services.
If you have been named as the executor of a Will and need help administering the estate, call our office at (717) 560-4966.  We would be happy to assist you any way we can.

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