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Important Tips for the Executor of an Estate

Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi Oct. 17, 2022

Wealth management concept, business man and team analyzing financial statement .Executors play a crucial role during the estate administration process. When a person dies in New York State, the executor or administrator is often called upon to evaluate assets, pay debts and taxes, distribute assets to rightful beneficiaries, or ultimately settle the decedent’s financial affairs. When appointed as an executor to settle an estate, you need to carry out your expected roles ethically, diligently, and in accordance with the decedent’s wishes.  

At the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, we intend to provide experienced and knowledgeable direction to clients in the legal matters of probate and estate administration. Our accomplished New York State estate planning attorneys can inform you about the duties of an executor and provide you with insightful tips to perform your responsibilities brilliantly. We’re proud to serve clients across Tonawanda, Wheatfield, Amherst, and Erie County, New York. 

Important Tips for the Executor of the Estate 

An executor is a person named in a deceased person's will or appointed by the New York probate court (administrator) to manage or administer a decedent’s estate and assets. The executor will handle the probate and estate administration process and help settle the deceased person's financial affairs. Here are some vital tips to help you perform your role as the executor of a deceased loved one's estate: 

Understand Your Duties 

Executors in New York State have a fiduciary duty to perform their duties ethically and brilliantly while prioritizing the decedent’s best interests. Therefore, you need to clearly understand your roles and responsibilities once appointed or before you start acting as an executor. These include obtaining the estate planning documents, sorting out the decedent’s finances, gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, filing tax returns, and transferring assets to beneficiaries. 

Take Care of Surviving Family Members 

For the deceased person’s survivors, losing a loved one is usually an emotional and overwhelming experience. While the survivors – including spouse, close relatives, children, and dependents – are grieving the loss, you can provide them with the needed support, comfort, and care, or even a temporary place to live. 

Inform Close Family and Friends 

Also, get in touch with the family members, dependents, friends, and close relatives of the deceased person. Inform them of the loss. You can also notify employers, coworkers, social security, financial institution, insurers, and other service providers. 

Identify and Evaluate Assets and Debts 

Additionally, gather and evaluate the decedent’s assets, property, liabilities, and debts. Pay debts and taxes from the decedent’s estate. File the final income tax returns. However, the distribution of assets to beneficiaries and heirs should only occur once all taxes and debts are paid and other estate administration tasks are sorted out. 

Gather Important Documentation 

What’s more, find and keep all of the vital documents and records belonging to the deceased person. These include: 

  • Copy of the trust or will 

  • Legal pronouncement of death 

  • Financial documents 

  • Bank account statements 

  • Certificates of title to vehicles owned 

  • Deeds 

  • Birth and death certificates 

  • Divorce decree (if any) 

  • Investment statements 

  • Keys to safe deposit boxes or personal safe 

  • Marriage certificates 

Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions 

However, ensure that you terminate any monthly subscriptions that are no longer used. These include credit cards, gym memberships, phone bills, monthly subscriptions, and other needless expenses. This is necessary to avoid mounting bills or incurring charges from automatic billings. 

Hire an Estate Administration Attorney 

Retain a knowledgeable and dependable lawyer to walk you through every step involved in probate and estate administration. Especially when the decedent person has huge assets, tax liabilities, and debts, you will need all the professional help you can get. Moreover, a lawyer can help settle probate disputes and disagreements among surviving family members – should such arise. 

Communicate Regularly 

Also, ensure regular communication and timely updates with the lawyer and other persons involved in the probate and estate administration process. Keep the probate court officials, beneficiaries, and other service providers well-informed and up-to-date about current developments. Monitor all tasks assigned to each individual and keep notes of all your conversations. 

Don’t Rush any Step 

Finally, take sufficient time to carry out each task and do not rush any step. You should anticipate pressure from beneficiaries. Do not succumb to them. As the executor, you owe a fiduciary duty to honor the decedent’s wishes. Hence, carry out every required duty diligently to avoid potential liability or irrevocable mistakes. 

Get Detailed Legal Guidance from an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney 

Settling a deceased person’s estate in New York State often involves a lot of complex procedures. Once appointed as an executor – or before you start acting – you need to know your roles, responsibilities, rights, and limitations. Therefore, speaking with an estate planning attorney is imperative for clear guidance and to help you make informed decisions.  

At the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, we can assess the provisions of the estate planning documents and help get in touch with the decedent’s loved ones and creditors. Also, our trusted legal team can help manage court proceedings, pay bills, taxes, and debts, file the final tax returns, and distribute assets to rightful inheritors. By working together with our team, we can help ensure a successful and hassle-free estate administration and probate process.  

Contact the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi today to arrange an easy consultation with a loyal probate administration attorney. Our firm proudly serves clients across Tonawanda, Wheatfield, Amherst, Niagara County, and Erie County, New York.