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Top five responsibilities of an executor

Were you chosen as the executor of an estate? If so, you are likely feeling a mixture of responsibility and stress. Depending on the complexity of the estate, serving as the executor can be particularly intimidating. But you do not have to shy away from this seemingly daunting task. With the right guidance, you can fulfill your duties with confidence.

Your primary role as an executor is to ensure proper distribution of assets. Follow these steps to reach this goal through a smooth probate administration process.

1. Obtain and file the will

You must locate, read and analyze the will. Once you have done this, you should file the will with the probate court and determine who inherits the assets.

2. Notify necessary companies and agencies

The decedent's credit card companies, banks and the Social Security Administration must be aware of the death.

3. Set up an estate bank account and make necessary payments

You need to set up a bank account to receive funds owed to the decedent, such as stock dividends or paychecks. Estate funds are required to pay any mortgage payments, utility bills or home insurance premiums. You will also need to pay any taxes or debts. 

4. Maintain the property

Keep up the house until it is sold or distributed. Find all personal assets, including any safety deposit boxes, in the estate, and protect them until distribution.

5. Distribute assets

Supervise the distribution of the property to the people and organizations named in the will. You may also need to represent the estate during a court hearing.

Due to the varying size and complexity of estates, your probate process may be simpler or harder than the above five points. While this might tempt you to decline the role of executor or resign during the process, sometimes all you need is legal assistance. Consult an estate planning attorney to get help complying with your duties.

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