Blogs from January, 2014

What is the Importance of the Executor?


Death is a very personal matter as are matters pertaining to your personal finances. When given the choice – and you do have a choice, wouldn't you prefer to hand select someone to settle your estate after you pass? If you fail to choose an executor to wrap up your personal and financial affairs after you die, then the court will step in and appoint an administrator to do this for you. While this administrator may be a logical choice, he or she may not be the person that you would have chosen and they may not be someone that you would trust explicitly.

When it comes to settling an estate, most people prefer to choose someone who is either close to them or a professional such as an attorney they trust and not the courts. The courts have no idea how each family's dynamics work, nor do they understand the personalities involved. For this reason people generally prefer to have a say in who serves as an executor over their estate after they die versus leaving such decisions up to the court.

An executor is an individual or another entity who essentially steps into the decedent's shoes and wraps up his or her affairs after their passing. All executors have a "fiduciary duty" to act solely in the best interests of the beneficiaries and the estate, they cannot engage in self-dealing and may not profit from their fiduciary relationship.

Beneficiaries may be surprised to find out that their inheritance may be tied up in probate proceedings for six months or even a year or longer, but it's important to understand that the executor has a large responsibility when it comes to estate administration and it can involve several lengthy processes, particularly when real estate has to be sold. Just a few of the executor's duties include:

  • Deposit the original, signed will with the county clerk's office in the county where the decedent lived.
  • Open a checking account for the estate and obtains a taxpayer identification number from the IRS.
  • Collects and values all of the decedent's assets.
  • Notifies creditors and all who stand to inherit from the estate.
  • Maintain any real estate property and collects rents (if any).
  • Turn in an inventory of the estate's assets to the court.
  • Files a Request for Release with TennCare, the state Medicaid agency.
  • Pays all debts and taxes against the estate.
  • If the decedent owned any real estate in another state, the executor may need to conduct ancillary probate proceedings in the other state.
  • After all debts and taxes are paid, distribute what's left to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Being an executor of an estate is an enormous responsibility, especially when it is a large estate. Since the laws surrounding estates and probate are complex, it's important that all personal representatives seek professional guidance from an experienced Murfreesboro probate attorney.

As the founder of LaRoche Law Office, I understand how important the executor's job is, but I also understand how complex and overwhelming it can be to the average person. Should you choose to hire me, I can explain the laws and your responsibilities in simple terms, I can guide you through every step of the process and make things as easy as possible for you.

Don't hesitate to contact me today for a free consultation at (615) 200-9359 today – I look forward to hearing from you!

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