The responsibilities of an executor (or administrator) can be overwhelming. They may include, but are not limited to the following tasks:
- Locating the decedent’s will and determining if it is the most recent version
- Gathering information on all assets and liabilities including associated documents
- Securing documents such as a birth certificate, death certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, military discharge papers, etc.
- Notifying all beneficiaries and creditors the probate process has begun
- Filing claims for all accounts with named beneficiaries such as IRAs, insurance policies, etc.
- Filing applicable tax returns (including state and federal)
- Notifying banks, the Social Security Administration, the post office, public service companies, etc. of the death of the decedent
- Ensuring the terms of the will are carried out
For some executors, hiring an attorney to assist with the process may be a good decision – especially if the executor does not have the time or knowledge to carry out all the required tasks. Executors who hire a professional should note the professional works for them rather than the estate of the decedent, so be clear on how fees are to be paid.