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IMPORTANT TIPS FOR THE EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE

The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams Aug. 12, 2022

Following a person's death in Ohio, the probate court will appoint an executor or administrator to administer the decedent's estate and help settle their final affairs. Executors have a fiduciary duty to perform their expected responsibilities ethically and ensure a successful probate and estate administration. An experienced Ohio estate planning attorney can provide you with some insightful tips to help you act diligently as an executor of a loved one's estate.

At The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams, I'm committed to offering reliable advocacy and skilled legal counsel to executors in estate administration and probate-related matters. I'm available to discuss your unique situation and enlighten you about your duties and responsibilities as an executor, as well as how to perform them. My firm is proud to serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio.

Important Tips for the Executor of the Estate

An executor is a person named in a will and appointed by the Ohio probate court to administer a deceased person's estate. The executor will gather and evaluate the decedent's assets, pay debts and taxes, and ultimately distribute assets to rightful beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of the last will and testament or Ohio's intestate succession laws. 

Below are some insightful tips to help you perform your role as the executor of a deceased loved one's estate:

Understand Your Duties

Executors have a fiduciary duty to fulfill their roles and responsibilities ethically, diligently, and with the best interests of the deceased person in mind. Hence, once appointed or before you start acting, you must clearly understand your duties and responsibilities as an executor or administrator.

Take Care of Surviving Family Members

The death of a family member is often a difficult and emotional period for the decedent's survivors. As the executor, you must cater to the needs of the surviving spouse, minor children, dependents, and close relatives while they grieve. Offer them the needed support, assistance, and care. If necessary, you can take them in temporarily.

Inform Close Family and Friends

Reach out to the decedent's family members, friends, dependents, and close relatives to notify them of the loss. You may also need to inform any employers, coworkers, banks, insurers, Social Security, and other service providers.

Identify and Evaluate Assets and Debts

Collect and evaluate all of the deceased person's property, assets, and debts. Pay taxes and debts. File the decedent's final income tax returns. Above all, you should only distribute assets to inheritors after settling all taxes and debts or finalizing other estate administration processes.

Gather Important Documentation

Another important role for the executor is to gather and keep all of the decedent's vital documents. These include:

  • Legal pronouncement of death

  • Copy of the will or trust

  • Certificates of title to vehicles owned

  • Birth and death certificates

  • Bank account statements

  • Financial documents

  • Marriage certificates

  • Divorce decree (if any)

  • Investment statements

  • Keys to home safe or safe deposit boxes

  • Deeds

Cancel Subscriptions

Cancel any monthly subscriptions that are not required anymore. These include phone bills, gym memberships, credit cards, monthly subscriptions, and other unnecessary expenses. Doing this will help avoid or mitigate incurring charges or mounting bills from automatic expenses that are no longer in use.

Hire an Estate Administration Attorney

Additionally, hire an experienced attorney to guide you through the probate and estate administration process. This is even more necessary if the decedent has several assets, huge debts and tax liabilities, or there is the potential for conflicts and disagreements among family members and relatives.

A skilled Ohio probate attorney can walk you through every process involved in probate and estate administration and help carry out your tasks diligently. The legal counsel can also help resolve probate disputes peacefully and mitigate potential liability.

Communicate Regularly

Always keep in touch with the attorney and other persons involved in the estate administration process. Communicate regularly with the beneficiaries, probate court officials, and service providers, including real estate agents and accountants. Keep track of the tasks assigned to each person. You should also keep notes of every conversation you have with them, too.

Take Your Time

According to EstateExec, it takes an executor about 570 hours of effort on average to settle an estate. Do not rush any step. Take as much time as needed to perform every estate administration task properly. Do not succumb to pressure from beneficiaries. Remember, your fiduciary duty is to honor the deceased person's wishes. Therefore, you should be precise and follow the necessary steps to avoid costly mistakes or potential liability.

Seek Trusted Legal Guidance

Executors play a significant role in ensuring hassle-free probate and estate administration. However, in order to perform your executor role diligently and successfully, it is important that you understand your expected duties, rights, and responsibilities. Therefore, if you've been appointed as an executor to a deceased loved one's estate, consulting with a skilled estate planning attorney is crucial for detailed guidance and to help you navigate intelligent decisions.

Contact my firm – The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams – today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a knowledgeable probate lawyer. I can offer you the experienced legal guidance, assistance, and reliable advocacy you need to perform your duties as an executor or administrator. My firm is proud to serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio.