Not long ago, your relative told you that he chose you as the executor of his estate. You are not sure what being an executor means, and you don’t know what your responsibilities are. Now, your relative has sadly passed away. What should you do?
- Making Funeral Arrangements
Since you believe that you are the executor of your relative’s estate, you may need to take charge of making funeral arrangements. Talk to other family members and find out if your relative left a document explaining his funeral and burial wishes. This may be a separate document or part of a will or power of attorney. Follow those wishes if you can. If you cannot locate anything, ask your family what they think your relative might have wanted and take their suggestions into consideration.
- Look for the Will and Other Important Documents
You also need to find the will and other important documents concerning your relative’s estate. In particular, you need to confirm that you are listed as the executor in the will. The will may be in your relative’s house, with a trusted person like a lawyer or financial advisor, or locked up in a safe or safe deposit box. Getting access to the will could take some time and even require a court order. If you are having trouble finding it, you may want to speak to a lawyer to learn more about your obligations and duties.
- What to Do with the Will
When you find a will, you may need to submit it to the probate court. In some cases, when an estate has a lower value, you do not need court help to distribute the estate. Figuring out whether the probate court needs to get involved usually involves assessing the estate’s overall value, which might require professional help.
If you need to go to court, locate a lawyer who can assist with filing court forms and appearing before the judge. If you do not need to go to court, you will still need to do some paperwork. Executors have to gather all estate assets, figure out how much they are worth, locate heirs, and distribute the assets to the heirs according to the will. This process can take months or years depending on the estate’s complexity. Once the estate is completely distributed and taxes are filed properly, the executor’s job is done.
Appointed executor of an estate and need legal advice? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.