For some of us, we have gotten the executor call. It is the call from a loved one who is doing their estate plan, usually by themselves or with an online form, and they want to know if we can be their executor. Some of us probably said, “yes” without even knowing what that means, and others, may have found out they are the executor without even being asked. Now, they are entrusted with a beloved family member’s estate administration, but what if they do not know how to administer that estate.
Essentially, an executor (or executrix) is responsible for probating the deceased will, identifying all assets and debts, determining who will get what, paying debts and taxes and, ultimately, making distributions to the beneficiaries. This is a fiduciary relationship, which means they must act in the best interest for all concerned.
Since the executor controls the estate, they are the one empowered to make the final arrangements, including paying for them. This information should be outlined in the will or in another document in the estate plan, and it is the executor’s most processing and immediate concern.
Probate refers to the legal proceeding after one’s death to close out their estate. This means filing the will with the local jurisdiction where the loved one passed and opening their estate. Even where all the assets passed without the will, probate should still be done to ensure that taxes and debts are handled.
Unless one is a Hazelton, Pennsylvania, estate attorney, one should be hired to help with an estate administration. The attorney can be paid by the estate, and they will help ensure that the estate is wrapped up legally and appropriately. As they say, one does not know what they do not know. And, when it comes to legal proceedings, one really needs to know what they do not know, which is where an attorney becomes essential.