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Important Tips for Executor of the Estate

Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow PC Nov. 2, 2023

Executors – also known as personal representatives or administrators – play a major role during estate administration. Upon a person's death, the California probate court will appoint the executor to gather and evaluate the decedent's assets, pay taxes and debts, distribute assets to rightful inheritors, and settle their financial affairs. As an executor, understanding all your duties and responsibilities is important to ensure you handle the estate administration process diligently and efficiently. 

At the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow PC, I have the diligence and expertise to advise and guide executors and fiduciaries in estate administration-related matters. As a seasoned California estate planning attorney, I can educate you about your roles and responsibilities as an executor and provide you with vital tips to help you perform them brilliantly. My firm proudly serves clients across Los Alamitos, Orange County, Newport Beach, Los Angeles County, and Santa Ana, California. 

Important Tips for the Executor of the Estate

An executor is a person named in a decedent's will or appointed by the probate court to manage or administer a deceased person's estate and final affairs. Essentially, the executor is responsible for handling the various tasks involved in the probate and estate administration process. Here are some insightful tips to guide you through the process and help you carry out your duties effectively: 

Know Your Duties 

As an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to carry out your responsibilities ethically and efficiently. You're required to act in the best interests of the decedent and their surviving loved ones. For this reason, you must know your roles, duties, and responsibilities once you're appointed or before you begin to act as an executor. 

Common duties of the executor in California include: collecting the estate planning documents, gathering assets, sorting finances, paying taxes and debts, filing final tax returns, and distributing assets to rightful beneficiaries. Once you understand all your duties and responsibilities, you can perform them as expected. 

Cater to Surviving Loved Ones 

The moments following the loss of a loved one are a difficult and emotional period for the decedent's surviving loved ones, including spouse, children, close relatives, and dependents. Hence, while they grieve their loved one's demise, you should offer them the needed comfort, support, and care. Also, provide them with temporary accommodation or somewhere to stay. 

Notify Close Family and Friends 

It’s important to note that you will need to reach out to the decedent's family members, friends, dependents, and close relatives. Find a compassionate way to notify them about the loss. Similarly, you can inform the decedent's coworkers, employers, financial institutions, insurance carriers, social security, and other service providers. 

Identify and Assess Assets and Debts 

Also, you must gather and assess the deceased person's property, assets, debts, and liabilities, and pay taxes and debts from their estate, including filing the final income tax returns. You should only transfer the remaining assets to inheritors once you have paid all debts and taxes and executed every necessary estate settlement task. 

Gather Important Documentation 

Finding and keeping all of the deceased person's crucial documents and records is vital. These include 

  • Copy of the will or living trust. 

  • Bank account statements 

  • Investment statements 

  • Deeds 

  • Legal pronouncement of death 

  • Birth and death certificates 

  • Financial documents 

  • Marriage certificates 

  • Divorce decree (if any) 

  • Keys to safe deposit boxes or personal safe 

  • Certificates of title to vehicles owned 

Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions 

You will need to cancel any monthly subscriptions that aren't required anymore. These include phone bills, credit cards, magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, and other inessential expenses. Canceling needless subscriptions can help avoid accumulating charges or bills from automatic billings. 

Hire an Estate Administration Attorney 

Hiring a trusted attorney to guide you through every legal phase of the probate and estate administration process is extremely beneficial. If the deceased has substantial assets, debts, and tax liabilities, you need as much help as possible to manage their affairs. In addition, an attorney can help resolve disputes and challenges that occur during probate and estate settlement. 

Communicate Regularly 

Communicating regularly and asking for timely updates from the attorney and other professionals or individuals involved in the estate administration is key. Ensure that beneficiaries, probate court officials, and other entities are up-to-date and duly notified about the entire process. Also, keep notes of all your discussions and personally monitor the tasks assigned to each person. 

Don't Rush any Step 

Lastly, take as much time as needed to execute the estate. Be precise and avoid rushing any step. Beneficiaries may try to pressure you but do not give in to their demands. As the executor of an estate, it is your fiduciary duty to honor the deceased person's wishes. Therefore, perform all required tasks and duties thoroughly to avoid costly errors and potential liability. 

Know Your Next Move

Knowing what to do when appointed as an executor of a deceased loved one's estate can help you perform your duties diligently. At the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow PC, I'm poised and ready to assist and guide executors through the complex procedures involved in estate administration. Using my extensive knowledge, I can craft a well-detailed checklist to guide you through the estate settlement process and work together with you to administer the estate brilliantly and effectively. 

Contact me at the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow PC today to schedule an initial consultation with a seasoned estate administration attorney. I can offer you the reliable advocacy and legal guidance you need to navigate crucial decisions at every step of the way. My firm proudly serves clients across Los Alamitos, Orange County, Newport Beach, Los Angeles County, and Santa Ana, California.