Many people think it is an honor to serve as the executor of a family member’s estate, but if someone has asked you to fulfill this duty, take time to think it over before accepting. The role includes many responsibilities, and you will need to take care of them shortly after losing your family member.
Here are some questions you may want to ask before you agree to be the executor of the estate.
What your duties will be
Some estates are straightforward, but many or varied assets can complicate your duties. Smart Asset lists executor tasks such as:
- Performing an inventory on all assets and arranging for appraisals
- Reviewing investments, transferring securities and collecting dividends and interest for the beneficiaries
- Notifying creditors so they can make claims against the estate if they so choose
- Collecting proceeds of life insurance with the estate as the beneficiary
- Filing income tax returns for your family member and for the estate
- Paying the estate’s debts
These may just be the tip of the iceberg. However, your family member may have placed most of these assets in trust for a trustee to manage, leaving you with only the more straightforward duties.
Who you will be working with
If your family member particularly wants you to take care of certain things, but you worry that some of the duties are over your head, you may still agree to be executor. Often, more than one person handles estate matters. You may tell your family member that you would prefer to have one or more co-executors or the advice and assistance of a professional. This is common when estates include complex assets that involve a high level of fiduciary responsibility.