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What are the responsibilities of an executor of a will?

When many people think about drafting a will, they often think that the process involves simply taking their assets that they intend for their loved ones to inherit and writing them down alongside the names of the individuals that they want them to go to.

It's only when they head to an estate planning attorney's office that many clients find out that they have to appoint an executor to administer their estate. Once they learn this, it's oftentimes not the easiest decision to decide who to appoint to this role. Instead, it's one that must be carefully made, especially given the multitude of responsibilities that this person has to take on once the person writing the will, the testator, passes on.

One of the first responsibilities that the executor must carry out after the testator's death is to initiate the probate process. State law requires this to be started so that the will can be validated.

After doing that, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the executor to inventory everything belonging to the estate.

An executor must then take those assets and pay any outstanding funeral costs, debts and taxes on the testator's behalf. After making payments on these bills, the executor is obligated to make contact with the post office, banks, utility companies, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and credit card companies to notify them of the testator's death.

The final obligation of the executor is to make sure that all of the remaining assets are transferred over to the different people they're intended to go to according to the will.

Since executors have many responsibilities, it's important that you find someone that is first and foremost honest to handle this role. The person you select doesn't necessarily have to be someone who is related to you, but instead someone you trust to get the job done.

It is helpful for that person that you select is both younger than you and in good health. This will give him or her a higher likelihood of being around when called to action.

Certain third party individuals such as attorneys, banks and trust fund companies are eligible under state law to serve as executors of estates as well.

If you are preparing to draft a will, then a Queens attorney can guide you though the process of selecting an executor for it.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How to choose the right executor for your will," Jim T. Miller, accessed June 07, 2018

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