If a loved one or friend has asked you to execute their will, chances are, like most people, you’ve said yes. Now what?
Understanding the Duties of an Executor
Executing a will is a legal responsibility, complete with fiduciary obligations. Being as prepared as possible about your duties is wise. Afterall, it’s a big deal that your family member or friend has been able to create a will and entrust the administration of it to you. Though we all know “putting our affairs in order” is something we should do, it’s often easier said than done. Many Americans die without a will, inadvertently setting off a lot of confusion and even conflict. Advance preparation is truly a gift!
Although state probate laws differ somewhat, understanding the nuts and bolts of an executor’s duties will help you prepare to administer the will smoothly, in accordance with the intentions expressed in it. According to LegalZoom as an executor you will:
- Get a Copy of the Will and File It With the Local Probate Court
- Notify Banks, Credit Card Companies, and Government Agencies of the Decedent’s Death (e.g., the Social Security Administration, along with the decedent’s bank and credit card companies).
- Represent the Estate in Court
- Set up a Bank Account for Incoming Funds and Pay Any Ongoing Bills (e.g., An executor should be on the lookout for mortgages, utilities and similar bills that still need to be paid throughout the probate process).
- File an Inventory of the Estate’s Assets With the Court
- Maintain the Property Until It Can Be Distributed or Sold
- Pay the Estate’s Debts and Taxes
- Distribute Assets (i.e. according to the will)
- Dispose of Other Property
What is an Executor Bond and How Can You Obtain One?
Although often waived by families during the process of creating the will and naming an executor, sometimes probate court judges do ultimately require the executor to procure an executor bond. To avoid delaying the probate process, executor bonds must be secured and filed promptly.
An executor bond is a type of fiduciary bond: it guarantees the beneficiaries that the estate will be administered in accordance with state law. It is easy to obtain an executor bond from a leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Uniquely, Colonial offers direct, digital, executor bonds.
Sometimes executor bonds are also referred to as administrator, estate, fiduciary, personal representative or probate bonds. Colonial provides all of these bonds. Just get a quote online, fill out your information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from your home or office—even while at court. It’s that simple.
Completing Your Duties As Executor
As an executor, keep in mind that state inheritance laws can allow for expedited probate processes. You may find it helpful to understand intestate succession and the probate court process. It is very important for executors to keep good records during the probate process. As Legal Beagle describes:
Generally, a final accounting must be filed before an estate closes. This gives beneficiaries the opportunity to review all of an executor’s activities before the file is permanently closed in court.
Probate Attorneys: Need a Partner?
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In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial Surety Company offers an innovative Partnership Account® for Attorneys. This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need.
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.