Administering an estate without experience or guidance, and carrying out your duties as an executor can be a herculean task. The role of the estate trustee or executor can actually be summed up in four words: funeral, taxation, debt, and beneficiaries. These four responsibilities are the foundation of your role. Of course, as with all things, it’s never quite that simple.
What to Expect When Administering an Estate
As the trustee or executor, you will need to locate and review the Will, determine if there are any issues with the Will and/or if it needs to be probated, make any and all funerary arrangements, determine any immediate requirements for surviving family (such as short term cash or other assistance), obtain or apply for a death certificate, and determine if the Will should be validated by the courts.
You will be responsible for contacting beneficiaries. You will likely need to establish an estate account for the disbursement of estate funds. You will need to establish a timeline for time limitations on claims against the estate. You will need to take a complete inventory of the estate and appraise all cash and non-cash assets. You will need to determine if there are any foreign assets in the estate, and determine how those should be handled. You will need to use your appraisal to determine the appropriate estate administration tax. You will need to determine those elements of the estate that are most pressing and need the most immediate action, and then take the appropriate course of action (usually the most immediate concerns involve the securing of assets, business interests, investments, real estate, etc.). You will need to distribute the remaining funds, pay any outstanding fees, and finally, close the estate account. And you will need to do all of this while keeping accurate records of the process.
The courts, not to mention the beneficiaries, take proper administration of the will very seriously. It’s not uncommon for executors to try to voluntarily remove themselves when they find themselves unable to deal with the duties at hand. It’s also possible for an administrator to be involuntarily removed by the courts if they are deemed to be causing harm to the estate either through improper or prejudicial action, or even through a lack of action. The removal of an executor isn’t a simple thing, and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, but it should also underscore the importance of the role of the executor in the process.
Seek Guidance from a Knowledgeable Estate Lawyer
You don’t have to do it alone. Your experienced Legal Sherpa® from Yeti Law can be counted on to guide you through this process and relieve some of the burden that this entails. You will undoubtedly have questions, and your Legal Sherpa® will have answers.
Your Legal Sherpa® can assist with questions or concerns regarding: