What Does an Executor or Personal Representative Do Anyway?

Executor’s Duty

What does an executor or personal representative do anyway?  Here is a list of actions the Executor or Personal Representative either should or must take, depending upon the circumstances.  This list is not a substitute for legal advice.  This list is not exhaustive.  There may be additional actions that need to be taken.  If acting in the capacity of an Executor or Personal Representative, one must consult an attorney when someone dies, when distributing property, and when administering an estate.  Other responsibilities may include:

  1. Hire a probate attorney;
  2. Read the last will and testament to beneficiaries or send a copy of the will by certified mail;
  3. Safeguard the estate assets;
  4. Insure real estate and personal property;
  5. Secure real estate and personal property (may involve changing the locks or storing personal property);
  6. Examine books and files;
  7. Give notice of death to banks, brokers, and creditors;
  8. File application to probate the last will and testament and application to be named executor of the estate;
  9. Assemble an inventory of all assets;
  10. Collect life insurance proceeds;
  11. Assemble an inventory of household goods and effects;
  12. Remove valuable household goods and effects, and store them safely;
  13. Determine whether creditor claims are genuine and valid, and establish evidence and witnesses for claims that appear to be false or invalid in order to contest claim;
  14. Arrange for supervision and management of going businesses;
  15. Obtain custody of securities and collect interest and dividends;
  16. Inspect real estate;
  17. Review leases of real estate and oversee management of leased property;
  18. Review mortgages and promissory notes;
  19. Appraise all assets;
  20. Administer the terms of the will, carry out the wishes of the deceased, and follow requirements of probate law;
  21. Research  and study collections of valuables such as stamps, coins, gold bullion, art, etc.;
  22. Determine method and time for sale of personal effects (estate sale);
  23. Hire a CPA to estimate federal estate tax due;
  24. Estimate costs and expenses of administration;
  25. Estimate compensation to Executor;
  26. Determine method and time for sale of real estate;
  27. Hire business appraiser to research and study value of business for sale or for purposes of distributing business to beneficiary (beneficiary will want a step up in basis);
  28. Review succession plan for business;
  29. Research and review market conditions to determine whether securities should be transferred in-kind or in-cash after liquidation;
  30. Hire CPA to file all tax returns;
  31. Pay income taxes for final return;
  32. Pay income taxes for estate;
  33. Pay inheritance and estate taxes;
  34. Settle all proper creditor’s claims;
  35. Publish notice to creditors;
  36. Send notice to secured creditors by certified mail;
  37. Mail permissive notice to creditors to limit the time allowed for them to present a claim;
  38. Distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries;
  39. Prepare final account showing receipts and disbursements;
  40. Close estate.

Call Marquardt Law Firm, P.C. at 210-320-8800 or 575-430-2353 to advise and counsel you as you administer the probate estate if you are named executor or personal representative.  We anticipate the unexpected and plan for the unknown.

2 comments on “What Does an Executor or Personal Representative Do Anyway?

  1. LuEllen
    January 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Unfortunately we’ve had to deal with a couple of estates in 2012, and a check list of things to do is very helpful. Just don’t be in too big of a hurry and overlook important details

    • Faye Thompson
      January 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      The list sounds exhaustive. I had no idea of the responsibilities of the executor. Is there something I could do or should be doing in preparation of death, since my mother is at home under hospice care? Also, would my sister share this responsibility? I can certainly see why an attorney is required during this process; especially, an attorney that is honest and has high ethical standards.

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