New York residents who have been named as executor under a testator's will may wonder what will be involved in the process. An executor is responsible for identifying assets, paying debts and then distributing assets to beneficiaries. However, the nuts and bolts can be more complicated.
First, it is important for executors to understand that they have a fiduciary duty. This means that they have a legal duty to handle the estate correctly and to abide by the terms of the will. However, they are not expected to be an expert in these areas. They may want to hire professionals to assist them.
Another important step for an executor is securing the estate. This includes making sure that property such as homes and vehicles are locked. Creditors and heirs should also be notified, but executors should proceed with caution when dealing with creditors. Any of their claims should be verified before being paid.
Executors should also not allow themselves to be rushed through the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries. While beneficiaries may be impatient to receive their inheritance, debts must be paid first. An executor may be personally liable if the estate runs out of money before debts are paid.
Being an executor can be a lot of work, but an attorney can often be of assistance. From routine issues such as the probate process or filling out tax forms to more complex problems such as a relative challenging a will, an attorney might be able to advise an executor about how to proceed. The estate is responsible for the resulting legal fees.