What To Do When You Are Named Executor Of A Will?

The job of an executor can be a time-consuming one. After all, they’re tasked with the responsibility of dividing the estate of a decedent, in addition to settling debts. When you’ve been named the Executor of an estate it’s important that you know what your fiduciary duties and responsibilities are, so you’re not held liable for any losses experienced by the estate.

If you’ve been named the executor or co-executor of a will, you’ll need to know how to begin probate and carry out your duties efficiently.

Entering Probate In New York City

File Documents At Surrogate's Court In The Jurisdiction Of The Deceased

To start probate you’ll need to file the decedent’s Last Will and Testament along with a certified copy of their death certificate at the Surrogate’s Court in the jurisdiction where they lived. If you’re unable to file these documents, you can prepare them and have a process server file the court papers.

Serve Distributees (Heirs)

After the Surrogate (judge at surrogate court) has validated the Last Will and Testament you’ll need to serve distributees. This service of process (notice referred to as a citation) is to let them know that you’ve filed for the authority to manage the decedent’s estate. Before you proceed, they can either object or permit your appointment. If they object, they’ll be required to make a court appearance, which could see you losing executorship.

Keep in mind, however, the judge may also revoke your executorship if he/she feels that you’re unfit for the title.

To serve the citation you need to hire the service of licensed process server who’ll ensure that the Distributees have been notified as required by the court.

Maintain Accurate Records

Keeping record of everything you do as an Executor is essential. You could be held financially liable by distributees if the estate incurs any unexplained losses. If any fraudulent activities were undertaken, you could also be criminally charged. For this reason, you may want to consult a probate lawyer if you’re unsure about anything pertaining to the estate.

Itemize and Manage Assets

Before any debts can be settled it is important that you’re well aware of any assets owned by the estate.
This would include property, stocks, bonds, collectibles, artwork, and any kind of personal property, this should be appraised if necessary so you’re able to pay off debts.

Settle Debts

Before the assets can be divided among the heirs it is your job as the Executor to ensure that debts from the estate are settled. This can take up to seven months as debtors are able to claim outstanding debt up to seven months after the estate has gone into probate.

Subtract Your Fee and Divide The Remaining Assets Among The Distributees

According to New York legislation as an Executor you’re entitled to a fee which would depend on the size of the estate. This fee is a percentage of the total assets of the estate. However, if you’re also an heir you may choose to waive this fee.

Once the estate has paid all its debt it’s up to you to divide the remaining assets or money among the distributees according to what has been set out in the will. An individual who thinks they are an heir may still dispute the dividing of estate so that a portion of the assets may go to them.

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