What is my role as executor of an estate?
As executor, you are accountable to the beneficiaries of the estate. You are expected to file taxes, protect the property of the estate (which includes keeping money and investments properly invested in low-risk investments) and filing to probate the will. However, this list is non-exhaustive and an executor may have more responsibilities depending on the particular circumstances. If you are unsure of your roles and responsibilities, contact your estate lawyer for proper guidance.
Does an executor get paid?
An executor is typically entitled to a fee, as approved by the court, prior to distribution of the estate. The level of payment is based on the size and complexity of the estate.
Do I have to act as executor if I am named in the will?
You always have the option to decline acting as an executor. If there are alternate executors named in the will, then they will take your place; if not, then the courts may appoint someone to distribute the estate.
Can an executor change the will?
No. An executor is meant to administer the estate in accordance to the wishes of the deceased as laid out in the will.
If my loved one has passed away, where can I find their will?
If you are unable to locate the will on your own, you may wish to contact the law office that wrote the will. They may have record of where it is kept or even have a copy of the will.
How can a lawyer help with the administration of an estate?
Losing a loved one can be a difficult process, but an estate lawyer can ease the headaches surrounding administration of the estate. Whether by providing guidance to ensure proper steps are taken or administering the will on your behalf, your estate lawyer is there to help.
Who pays the legal fees for the administration of an estate?
The fees are paid out of the estate. The executor does not pay any of the fees out of pocket.
What is my role as power of attorney?
As an attorney, you are responsible for the financial matters of the incapacitated person who designated you. You must act in the best interest of the person, keep their finances and assets separate from your own, and keep accurate and detailed records of the dealings you undertake on behalf of the person. Once the person has passed, your duties will be taken over by the executor named in their will.
What is probate?
Probate is the process the court takes in distributing your estate. The court uses the assets in your estate to pay off any remaining debts and then distributes the remainder to the beneficiaries. If the deceased has prepared a properly drafted will, the estate will be distributed according to that will, making the probate process much simpler.
How long does probate take if I don’t have a will?
The length of the probate process varies significantly based on the complexity of the estate in question. The amount of disagreement between the family and other loved ones will also determine the length of the process.
How much will probate cost the estate?
Anything the court does is never free, including the probate process. The complexity of the estate will affect the cost of the process but can become a large expense to the estate, especially without a properly drafted will.
Which assets are distributed outside of the will?
Some assets are distributed outside of the will and probate process. Some of these assets include: assets held in joint ownership, life insurance policies, and assets held in trust. Consult with your estate lawyer to determine which assets can be passed to beneficiaries outside of the probate process.
What debts are forgiven at death?
The assets from your estate will first be used to pay any debts you had accrued up to the time of your death. Any assets above that amount will be distributed to your beneficiaries. If your estate is unable to pay off any remaining debts, the proceeds from your life insurance policy will be used to pay off the outstanding balances.
Can a debt be passed on to a beneficiary?
If a person’s estate has more debt than assets, the creditors may be out of luck. That being said, there can be exceptions that could leave you liable for the debts of a loved one. Consult with an estate lawyer to ensure you are not on the hook for any of this excess debt.