Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
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Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Acting as an estate executor

Many New Yorkers feel honored when they are asked to serve as estate executor by a loved one. This is an important role that requires a high level of trust. In many cases, however, it's often wise for the person being asked to request some time to think over whether they wish to take on the responsibility.

The reason why somebody might hesitate before agreeing is that an executor takes on significant legal responsibilities that may last for several months. Depending on the complexity of the deceased's estate plan and assets, the executor could be bogged down in legal work for years. In addition, an executor could get immersed in family and social conflicts that can have long-standing repercussions on personal relationships.

The first job of an executor is to identify the deceased's assets. This job could be more difficult than one might expect. For example, social media accounts, blogs and other online content may be considered "assets" that must be accounted for. A shifting legal landscape can make it difficult to fully account for online assets.

Executors must also identify creditors and ensure that they are paid before any distribution of assets can take place. Some lawyers have noted that assets that appear to be worthless, such as knickknacks and other personal items, can take on major significance among beneficiaries of an estate. Since many wills do not indicate who should take possession of these items, the executor may have to act as a referee between quarreling family members.

When it comes to complicated estates, hiring a professional executor may be a better option than relying on a friend or family member. An attorney could advise a client on how to choose an executor.

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