There is nothing quite as surprising as finding out that you’re the executor of an estate and did not know you were going to be. It can be difficult to understand what to do or what your obligations really are.
As the executor of an estate, you have several significant responsibilities. If you feel that these are too overwhelming or that you don’t have time to commit to doing these things, you do have the option of rejecting the role and asking the court to appoint someone else.
Now that you’re the executor, here are your responsibilities
As the executor of an estate, you have a significant role to fulfill. Some of the things you will be expected to do include:
- Obtaining the death certificate and sending it to the appropriate parties, like banking companies, the Social Security Administration, and others.
- Finding all assets, including the initial will and trust. If you didn’t know you were the executor, then it’s likely that the will has already been discovered. You will need to be sure you find all trust assets and copies of the will if you can.
- Filing the letters testamentary or surrogate certificates
- Protecting the assets that are being probated and that are not ready to be distributed
- Paying final bills and taxes
These and other steps need to happen after a person passes away. You can think of being the executor as a kind of accounting role: You need to identify all debts and assets, then settle the estate accordingly.
What do you need to do if you don’t want to be the executor?
Before you decide if you want or don’t want to be the executor, it can be beneficial to speak with an attorney. Though this role can be overwhelming, many times it’s straightforward and simple. Smaller estates or well-planned estates aren’t always difficult to probate or settle.
If you don’t want to take on this role, consider speaking with the attorney about the will and other options for executors. The court may need to appoint someone else to handle your loved one’s final affairs in your place.