Executor Checklist

Most be usually feel honored when chosen to serve as executors of a family member or friend’s will. However, most people do not know that it comes with many responsibilities. These errands include hunting down the will beneficiaries and collecting the deceased’s belongings.

As an executor, you should feel free to use an executor checklist to make your work more convenient and easy. If you require any support, reach out to a professional advisor to learn more about how you should accomplish your duties. The tasks of an executor become easy if the testator digitally tracks his records online yearly. For executors to deactivate accounts, they must incorporate the owner’s will presence record online.

What Is an Executor Checklist?

An executor checklist is a document that guides an estate individual appointed by the testator to administer the final will after his death. This checklist usually helps the executor manage the entire affairs and wishes of a person who has died.

The Executor Checklist

You must be wondering what an executor checklist is all about, or it is probably your first time coming across this checklist. If so, worry no more, and keep reading to understand the executor checklist.

Tasks an executor needs to accomplish before the testator dies

The executor needs to familiarize himself with a few tasks before your testator dies to make work easy. These tasks include:

Knowing imperative professionals

Sometimes the testator’s situation can be complicated, especially if the property ownership is a bit complex or the testator has different partnerships. Therefore, the executor needs to familiarize himself with the employees of the will owner, such as the lawyer, business managers, and accountants. These professionals will offer him advice in case of difficult scenarios.

Find out the location of the will, among other crucial documents

This falls among the most imperative tasks, and the testator’s lawyer or executor can directly access these documents. The work of an executor becomes simplified if essential documents, such as partnership documents, insurance policies, and deeds, are preserved somewhere they both agreed- upon. Additionally, copies of these documents should also feature a backup location. However, when the testator takes his last breath, access to these documents might be under restriction.

Secure documents on online accounts

Executors can deactivate accounts if they present a death certificate to sites such as eBay, PayPal, and Facebook. However, this digital error featuring secured documents on online accounts will make the entire process of deactivation on whichever site easy and quick for an executor.

Create annually updating program and accounting sheet

Advanced technology came to save people from hassle. In most cases, testators usually keep estate records electronically, making it easier for executors to find assets whenever the need arises. On the other hand, electronics, such as computers, make tracking possessions and accounts easy. These e-documents will save you a significant amount of time.

Jot down the references of the testator

It would help if you recorded down the testator’s wishes before they die. These wishes might include if they would love to support charity organizations suppose no beneficiaries are left or how they would love to be buried. These preferences must be written and the document signed by the will owner.

Set up a joint account for property

Testators with spouses usually prefer creating a joint account, ensuring that the assets are left to whoever remains. Therefore, ensure that the title and properties have all their names and a joint account. On the other hand, the executor must confirm with the testator if the will features appropriate beneficiaries, especially for accounts with specifications, like insurance policies, retirement, and pension accounts. A testator needs to update the beneficiary list if he experiences scenarios like having a child out of wedlock, remarrying, or divorcing.

Create a list of assets and allocate recipients

Most executors usually ignore this aspect, disbanding personal assets incorporating a minimal percentage of financial value, not recognizing its outstanding emotional value. Thus an executor should closely work with the testator to create a list of such items and how they should be allocated. Similarly, the testator has to write why different gifts are assigned to individuals to avoid unnecessary chaos. Bear in mind that this list assists the executor in keeping a record of gifts given before the owner dies. Most testators usually give personal items when they age. A well-organized dispersal makes everything easier for an executor and helps address fairness problems.

Note: Executors must ensure that testators approve the named beneficiaries for accounts such as insurance policies, retirement accounts, and pension accounts are correct.

Roles of an executor

Below are multiple roles an executor should accomplish:

Locating assets and managing

As an executor, during the ongoing validation process, which takes approximately a year. You need to locate all deceased assets, safeguard, and manage them. In addition, you might also decide to sell securities or real estate belonging to the deceased. However, this can only be determined by the content featured on the will and the estate’s financial condition.

Filing the will and notifying beneficiaries

File the deceased will in a local probate court and request it to confirm and recognize you as a personal representative. The court will then offer you a probate proceeding notice, which you will send as beneficiaries to individuals appearing on the will. In most cases, it is usually close relatives, like children and their surviving spouse. Similarly, you must know that if the testator dies without leaving behind a will, his property is usually entitled to his children and the widow or widower.

Deciding not to get a lawyer’s help

If you do need a lawyer’s help, you can still get assistance by getting non-lawyer books for consultation, which have the maximum potential to guide you through the entire process of probate. Most people prefer getting Mary Randolph’s books, such as The Executor’s Guide: Settling a Loved One’s Estate or Trust. On the other hand, a few courts offer staff lawyers who must review the probate documents. And in case they come across any errors, they guide you on how to fix them. You can also decide to get-non-lawyer help because clerks in the court of probate can answer basic questions but may fail to guarantee you legal advice related to whatever you are handling as an executor.

Deciding whether you require a lawyer

You must understand that executors have the potential to execute their tasks without a lawyer, more so if they are primary beneficiaries and there are no major obstacles. Likewise, if estates incorporate multiple varying tax liabilities, property types or experience disputes among the named beneficiaries. The executor has no choice but to hire an excellent lawyer. Bear in mind that there are two primary ways of dealing with a professional lawyer. You can get a lawyer to function as your coach when responding to legal queries, reviewing your documents, and research before filing them. Furthermore, you can also hire a lawyer to handle everything for you, and he might charge you hourly or expect a single payment, which is usually drawn from the estate.

Determining if probate is a necessity

Non-probated assets are usually eliminated. Therefore, the estate size determines if probate is a necessity. There is no doubt that sometimes probate might be needed, which explains why a few states have modernized the entire process, especially for small estates. Probate is not necessary when transferring assets secured in trusts or property to specific beneficiaries named in the will, such as the surviving widow or widower. On the other hand, probate is also unnecessary when transferring funds in retirement programs and IRAs to beneficiaries featured in the will. Transferring bank securities and accounts registered in the form of payable upon death to beneficiaries does not need probate. And finally, when handling real estate, among other assets with a joint account or property to the remaining joint tenant, probate is unnecessary.

Paying taxes and expenses

As an executor, you are expected to continue filling income tax returns and pay incoming taxes. You are also expected to pay ongoing expenses like insurance premiums for the homeowner, utility bills, and mortgage payments. These payments are supposed to be settled the year the person passes on. If the federal estate and state tax returns are needed, the executor must pay the estate taxes. However, this rarely happens unless it is necessary.

Initiating a bank account for the estate

This bank estate will hold any funds individuals owe the deceased, such as stock dividends and paychecks.

Tackling day-to-day details

When the testator passes on, the executor has a duty of handling daily details, including notifying go government agencies like the Veteran Affairs Department, Medicare, Post Office, or Social Security Administration and banks about the sad news of death.

Distributing property

The executor plays a significant role in supervising how the property is distributed, from real estate to personal belongings to cash to how they are channeled to organizations and individuals featured on the will.

Informing creditors and paying off debts

If there are any debts, the executor must settle because it is a legal requirement. Ensure that creditors know the probate proceedings by offering them a notice as state law requires. Grant creditors at least 4 to 6 months to allow them to file their claims for anything you did not pay voluntarily and decide whether it is valid.

Closing the estate

After settling all debts and ensuring all the named beneficiaries get their property share according to the will. The executor has all it takes to ask the probate court to close the estate officially.

Final thoughts

If you have never acted as an executor before, you will likely find the entire process intimidating and complex. However, with the help of the checklist, you will experience reduced pressure, which will make you accomplish your tasks easily. Ensure you also take advantage of some tasks when the testator is still alive because they have the potential of making your job easier and saving you time.