Most have never even heard of estate administration or an executor. But, for those that find themselves named as an executor after a loved ones dies, what do they do?
The basics of estate administration
When one dies, everything they own becomes their estate. This includes all of their personal belongings, real estate, cash, retirement accounts, etc. It includes everything, even one’s internet life, like social media accounts, websites and the like. The process of managing these assets, paying debts and taxes and transferring those assets to heirs is the estate administration process.
So, what is an executor?
They are the person empowered to control a deceased person’s estate administration process. Yes, this means figuring out debts, taxes and who gets what. This means a lot of leg work to identify all of those debts and potential taxes, and determining who is supposed to get what, which is not always straight forward or clear from a person’s estate plan. And, to make matters worse, there are different laws that control the estate administration process in every state. And, while some states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, not all states have done this, so there will be landmines when dealing with estates across state lines, or even countries.
How did one get choses as an executor?
Well, put simply, the person who passed named their own executor. They do not necessarily have to warn that person either. One could just be called by an attorney that his holding the will and be told that they are now the executor. It happens all the time, especially if one is the “responsible” child or grandchild.
What the named executor needs help?
Of course, the probate process is legally problematic and complicated, which is why executors are allowed to hire estate administration attorneys. And, they do so, not out of their own pocket, but at the expense of the estate. The attorney helps the executor with the entire estate administration process, and the executor is still entitled to compensation for administering the estate. Accordingly, the first step for most new executors is to call a Fayetteville, North Carolina, estate administration attorney.