When a testator writes a will, the testator needs to designate someone who will administer the estate after he or she passes away. Being named the executor of someone’s estate can be a daunting task for individuals untrained in estate matters. Nevertheless, there are a few important duties about which executors in New York and elsewhere need to be aware in order to fulfill their responsibilities.
Probate the will
The first thing that an executor needs to do is to submit a will for probate. This involves submitting the will to a court so that the executor can be granted the legal authority necessary to manage the estate and to distribute assets.
The next step an executor must complete is to notify the beneficiaries of a will that the will has been submitted to probate. This provides beneficiaries with the opportunity to contest a will and gives them notice that they may be entitled to money.
Inventory the estate
The executor later assembles all of the money and other assets belonging to the estate. Items such as life insurance policies, some 401(k) accounts, and other assets may not belong to the estate, but all other property of the decedent becomes part of the estate. A probate/estate administration lawyer should know which assets are included in an estate.
The executor then pays all debts of the estate, including funeral bills, taxes, and other liabilities. It should be noted that creditors generally only have a certain time period to properly make claims against the estate after they are provided notice that a will has been probated.
After all of the liabilities are paid, the executor pays the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries. The entire process can take almost a year to complete, and even longer in certain circumstances. In many instances, it makes sense to hire a probate/estate administration attorney to handle the probate process.