Naperville Estate Administration Lawyer Discusses the Duties of the Executor
If you have been asked by a friend or a loved one to be the executor of his or her estate, you might be tempted to simply say yes immediately. After all, you have a close relationship with that person, and it is the right thing to do, is it not? However, the full scope of your responsibilities might not become clear until the time comes for you to fulfill your role, whether you are ready or not.
In my practice as an estate planning and administration attorney, I have helped many executors understand and carry out their duties. Your job is to ensure that your friend or loved one’s final wishes are fulfilled, but the role of executor requires you to do much more upon the person’s death, including:
- Finding the Will: Do you know where the decedent kept his or her will? You will need to obtain the original will, so it is important to periodically verify its location with your friend or loved one while he or she is alive. It is also a good idea for you to read the will before your loved one dies so that you know what it contains. You will also be responsible for presenting the will for probate, and an estate administration attorney can help you do so.
- Getting Certified Copies of the Death Certificate: In order to access your loved one’s assets or close certain accounts, you will need certified copies of the decedent’s death certificate. These can typically be obtained from the county clerk in the county where the death occurred or the county vital records office.
- Protecting the Estate: It is also your job to compile a list of all of the deceased person’s assets and debts. This process will probably take a bit of research, and it is important to be organized. You will likely need to review investment records, bank statements, retirement accounts, tax returns, and other documents to determine what is available to distribute among the named heirs. You will also need to make sure that the estate’s assets, such as real estate and vehicles, are secured so that they are not compromised before they can be allocated.
- Locating Heirs and Others: You will also be required to keep an updated list of the decedent’s named heirs and beneficiaries. The list should include names, addresses, and contact information. It is a good idea to keep track of others who might have an interest in the estate as well, such as family members not named in the will, account managers, advisors, and agents.
- Keeping Records: While you might have agreed to serve as the executor as a kindness to your loved one, the law does not require you to donate your time or to spend your own money. You could elect not to take payment from the estate for your time, but you have every right to be reimbursed for any costs that you cover. Keep track of your time and expenditures so that you can be paid back accordingly.
Speak With a DuPage County Probate Lawyer
The probate and estate administration processes are often made much easier with the help of a qualified legal professional. Contact an experienced Naperville estate administration attorney to get the guidance you need in carrying out your responsibilities. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.