Many people aren’t sure what is required of an estate executor or executrix. Some believe that after they attend the hearing appointing them in the role, they are only responsible for receiving Letters of Testamentary. While their duties begin with swearing in, it does not end until they administer the estate.
A major duty of the Executor(trix) is to notify all heirs that will be recipients of the estate. It can be difficult to track members of the family down due to natural drifting, but the Executor(trix) must contact everyone listed, even if they must go to great lengths to find them.
After notification and providing a copy of the will for the heirs, the Executor must notify any creditors of the estate through official publication. Then they begin to negotiate any outstanding bills facing the estate, having the assistance of an estate lawyer will likely result in debtors reducing the balance of debt owed. An attorney can also negotiate on the Executor(trix)’s behalf and keeps a record of all the debts paid although the Executor(trix) is the final authorizer of funds. The records must be included within an Inventory to be approved by the court.
Completing an Inventory
An Inventory, Appraisement and list of Claims are required to be completed recording any bills due and owed by the estate. This Inventory includes all items in the estate including personal items and property. Usually an estate can waive an appraiser, but the Executor is responsible for the Inventory so that the total value of the state can be obtained to be distributed to heirs.
Once the completed Inventory has been approved by the judge after an investigation, an Order Approving the Inventory will be signed. Then an Executor may begin distributing the estate. Beneficiaries must be provided copies of the Inventory and the estate planning attorney must draft receipts for the division of property or funds they have received. Beneficiaries must then sign for acceptance of assets in order for the Executor to be finished with their obligations.
When all funds and assets are distributed, and receipts have been accepted and filed in the court, the Executor may then file to close the estate. The receipts must be filed and all beneficiaries must be notified about the closing of the estate before it can be officially closed. If everything has been filed properly according to the Estates code, then the Estate will close officially within thirty days after the file submission.
A Serious Obligation
Being an Executor is a serious responsibility that binds one to the court system. If an Executor does not do their job, then they will be subject to a dispute or contestation of not being able to maintain the estate. They must distribute all assets listed in the will or they will be penalized with removal of their duties or a lawsuit of misconduct or fraud. Working with an experienced attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ locals trust is recommended.
A special thanks to our authors at Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into Estate Law.