Most of the time, when a family member asks a person to act as executor of an estate, the answer is yes. However, also most of the time, the person agreeing to do so has no idea what he or she is actually committing too. Acting as the executor of an estate is an important and laborious task with certain duties that must legally be performed. It is far more than simply cleaning out a house and disbursing personal items to the family.
The required duties of an executor are numerous. First, the will must be provided to a probate court for filing and creation of a probate case. No party is allowed to disburse funds or disturb any asset until a probate judge has approved the will. Upon approval, the executor is officially appointed and may begin administration.
Administration of the estate consists of several duties. They include notifying all heirs or potential heirs of the probate matter, notifying all known creditors of the decedent, allowing the required time for claims to be filed, performing a complete asset inventory and providing a list to the probate court, opening an estate bank account and transferring all monies to it for payment of claims, locating and settling retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and finally, disbursing final assets.
Often, there are issues that arise that hinder the above-named duties. An heir may contest a will. A person who is not entitled to an asset may help themselves to it. A creditor may file an incorrect claim. In such instances, the matter can instigate an estate litigation. At that point, an executor will really have their hands full, as these are drawn out and complex matters. At the end of the day, the best advice for anyone who has been asked to act as an executor of an estate is to take the time to speak with a legal professional who can help make sure there is a full understanding of the legal requirements.