Whenever a person with an estate of any substantial size passes away, it is necessary for someone to take on the responsibilities of resolving the estate. Even in cases where the estate owner took care to plan out their passing and left specific instructions outlining their wishes, the law rarely allows for the quick transfer of assets, even in best-case-scenarios.
In most cases, the process of assessing the estate, settling outstanding obligations, resolving tax matters, and distributing the estate according to a will takes several months at least. During this time, it is necessary for someone to oversee the day-to-day needs of the estate to keep the process moving forward. Otherwise, the slowly turning gears of bureaucracy may drag the process out much longer than it has to, draining the assets within the estate and generally complicating the matter for all involved.
Typical executor responsibilities
Depending on the size and nature of the estate, an executor may have a number of responsibilities. These usually include:
- Making sure that all utilities, bills and other ongoing financial obligations are paid until the property gets distributed properly
- Paying necessary taxes for the estate
- Appearing in court for legal matters related to the estate
- Maintaining the physical property in the estate, such as a home
- Distributing the assets within the estate according to the will at the proper time
While this is only a brief overview of the kinds of responsibilities an executor must handle, it is not an exhaustive list. If you must serve as an executor for an estate, it is wise to consult with legal counsel that understands the nuances of your particular circumstances to make sure that you have the tools and understanding necessary to perform your duty excellently.
Are executors paid for their service?
Considering the amount of time and effort needed to perform this job well, you may be wondering if executors are usually paid for serving in the position. Unfortunately, this is not a cut-and-dried issue.
Under the law, executors reserve the right to fair payment for their time, and each state sets the limits for how to fairly pay an executor. Practically, however, most executors are close friends or family members of the decedent, and usually agree to serve as the executor without pay. How you choose to address this particular issue is up to you, defined by your understanding of the social norms and expectations in your circumstances.
However you choose to proceed, make sure that you have strong understanding of the legal issues you must navigate, using excellent legal resources. Strong legal support and clear understanding of these matters can guide you through hard times and give you the tools you need to support your family and community during a difficult season.