All of a sudden you are asked to be the Executor or Administrator of an estate. Most people have never acted in such a capacity and do not have any experience as to the responsibilities and tasks that lie ahead. They may be reluctant or even afraid to accept the appointment. While taking on this role may appear to be daunting, moving forward one step at a time with proper information is the best way to proceed. Here are a few initial suggestions.
- Do Some Research And Seek Professional Guidance. It never hurts to research the internet or other sources to learn about the role of an Administrator or Executor. An Administrator is appointed when a person dies intestate without a Will. An Executor is someone who is nominated in a Last Will and Testament. The appointment becomes official after the Will is admitted to probate. Other family members and friends may have been appointed in past matters and they can provide some insight. Internet sources such as The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contain many articles explaining estate issues. Also, Estate Lawyers can provide invaluable guidance and insight into the Surrogate’s Court process and how a fiduciary is appointed and estate settlement takes place. I speak with many people each week regarding and discussing these issues.
- Understand The Need for An Estate Fiduciary. The fiduciary is basically the Chief Officer for an estate. He or she collects the estate assets, pays the bills, taxes and expenses and ultimately distributes the assets to the estate beneficiaries in accordance with the estate laws and documents. There are numerous fiduciary duties and obligations. If the decedent owned real estate such as a residence, the fiduciary may need to sell the house and pay off a mortgage. Bank accounts owned by the decedent need to be closed and an estate bank account must be created. The decedent’s affairs cannot be resolved without proper administration. I handle all of these matters with my clients.