Being an executor of an estate is an honor and requires a lot of work. Usually, a last will and testament lists the executor, however, if a will does not determine an executor, this role is taken on by an administrator. These two roles are essentially the same, as an executor administers an estate according to the terms of the will and an administrator administers an estate according to the laws of intestacy.
If you have been appointed as an executor of an estate, call a local attorney to learn more about the role of a Columbia executor. A well-versed attorney could help you through the paperwork and the nuances of this task and ensure that you are adhering to your loved one’s last wishes.
What are the Responsibilities of a Columbia Executor?
State law now uses the interchangeable term “personal representative” for both an executor and an administrator. The probate court must appoint, give an oath to, and issue authorizing papers to an estate representative. Your basic task is to carry out the terms of the will, if there is one, and, whether or not there is a will, to administer the decedent’s assets, pay any debts, and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Here are the basic steps involved in administering an estate:
- Obtain the will and enlist an estate attorney
- Study the will
- Obtain an original death certificate
- Make arrangement for a bond with the court
- Get appointed by the probate court to serve as the estate representative
- Prepare to file an inventory of assets and periodic court accountings
- Obtain a tax ID number for the estate and open an estate bank account
- Report the estate to TennCare
- Identify and locate all assets and secure them
- Appraise the assets if needed
- Locate any life insurance policies and retirement benefits
- Obtain recent tax returns and bank statements
- Deal with any debts and creditors of the estate
- Pay necessary estate administration expenses
- File a petition and obtain a court order closing the estate
As you can see, being an executor is much more than just writing a few checks to the deceased’s beneficiaries. There is a substantial amount of work to be done to wrap up an individuals final affairs. The more disorganized and diversified the deceased is in their financial record-keeping, the more work there will be to do. An accomplished attorney in Columbia could help an executor understand their role after the decedent passes away.
An Executor is a Fiduciary
At all times, remember you are under a very high standard of doing things right, this is called ‘being a fiduciary.’ You owe a duty, and the court will hold you to the duty, of acting fairly and impartially, as well as competently and correctly. You must act with the best interest of the estate beneficiaries, not your own interest, foremost in your mind. This is not a task to be undertaken lightly or carelessly. This is a duty of the utmost importance and will call upon your very best behavior and abilities.
A trusted Columbia attorney could help someone ensure that they are correctly managing their role as an executor, and that the best interest of the estate is being prioritized in the process.
Call an Attorney about the Role of a Columbia Executor Now
If you find yourself named as the executor in a loved one’s will and would like more information about what your responsibilities are, contact us. Our probate and estate administration attorneys can assist you in all aspects of administering the estate and fulfilling your duties in accordance with the law.
If you need help deciding who to appoint as your executor in you will, our estate planning attorneys would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each potential personal representative to help you make the best decision possible.