When a friend or family member asks you to be the executor of his or her estate, you may feel honored and flattered. After all, those who give any thought to this decision typically choose someone whom they can trust implicitly to carry out their wishes and handle their affairs with integrity. Nevertheless, if you have never been an estate executor, you may be surprised to learn all that it entails. In fact, many find that the responsibilities are too much to fit into their already busy lives.
Ideally, you and the testator, the person writing the will, have time to sit together and discuss what will be expected of you. You may even streamline your executor duties by gathering documents and organizing the assets and debts in your loved one’s estate while he or she is still around to assist you and answer your questions. When the time comes, however, even the simplest estates may lead to complex probates.
Weigh the pros and cons carefully
Unlike what you may have seen on TV or in movies, being the executor of an estate involves much more than reading the will and handing out inheritances. Probate often takes months, and factors like the size and complexity of the estate can impact the level of commitment an executor will have to make. No one should feel pressured or obligated to take on this serious responsibility, which may include many steps along the way, such as:
- Making funeral arrangements
- Initiating the probate process and filing the will with the probate court
- Gathering, valuing and protecting the estate’s assets, including any assets held in states other than Nevada
- Paying the deceased’s debts
- Filing a final tax return
- Handling trusts, investments or other financial matters
- Carrying out the terms of the will
- Dealing with any conflicts or challenges among the heirs, or other legal issues
Even if you are happy to accept the role of estate executor for your loved one, the tasks that await you may seem intimidating. Complex assets, multiple heirs and other factors may drag out the process, requiring even more of your time and energy. Some elements of probate may even place your own finances at risk. For these and other reasons, you may wish to reach out to a compassionate attorney who can advise you along the way and assist you with any elements of the probate process.