Tips for an Executor of a Will

By A.L. Kennedy

As the executor of a will, you are responsible for carrying out the instructions left in the will, according to FindLaw. Your duties include paying the last debts of the estate, distributing assets to the beneficiaries and if necessary defending the legality of the will in court, according to the American Bar Association. Following a few tips for an executor of a will can help make your work easier.

As the executor of a will, you are responsible for carrying out the instructions left in the will, according to FindLaw. Your duties include paying the last debts of the estate, distributing assets to the beneficiaries and if necessary defending the legality of the will in court, according to the American Bar Association. Following a few tips for an executor of a will can help make your work easier.

Copy the Will

To open the probate estate and do your work as an executor, you will need to file the will with the probate court, according to FindLaw. Before you do so, however, it is wise to make a photocopy of the will for your personal use, since the will contains the instructions you must follow when handling the estate. Make sure your photocopy is clearly marked as a copy so that no one confuses it with the original.

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Order Extra Death Certificates

The family of a deceased person and the executor of his estate receive a few copies of the death certificate as a matter of course in most states, according to FindLaw. However, since you will be required to furnish a copy of the death certificate to a wide range of places, including government offices, banks and businesses, it is wise to plan ahead and order seven to 10 extra copies, according to the American Bar Association.

Find and Inventory Assets

Before you begin paying bills and distributing property to beneficiaries, you need to know what assets the estate has and what forms. Gather together the deceased person's bank statements, bills, insurance policies, investment paperwork and other items of value, including valuable personal property, and make a written inventory so that you know what needs to be paid and what is available to pay it, recommends FindLaw. In some states, you will be required to file this inventory with the court and/or make copies available to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Prepare Taxes

One of your duties as executor is to pay the final tax bills on the estate and any property contained in it, such as real estate. Make the tax work easier by obtaining copies of the estate's most recent tax returns and keeping track of payments made for medical bills and other deductible expenses. You may also wish to hire an accountant to advise you, especially if the estate contains a large amount of assets or is facing a heavy tax burden. In most states, you may be able to pay this accountant from the estate's assets, according to the American Bar Association.

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What Are the Responsibilities of an Executor of a Will in Georgia?

The executor of a will in Georgia is officially known as the "personal representative," according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. The personal representative must fulfill certain responsibilities under Georgia law when he seeks to distribute a deceased person's estate. Since the probate judge who will be supervising your work as a personal representative cannot give advice, the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges recommends to consult an attorney if you need help fulfilling the responsibilities of executing a will in Georgia.

Pennsylvania Laws on the Responsibilities for an Executor of an Estate

Executors are fiduciaries, meaning they have a responsibility to take care of assets and distribute property according to a will maker's wishes. If a deceased person did not leave a will, the person appointed to fulfill the executor's role is called a personal representative. In Pennsylvania, executors administer estates through the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent lived.

What Documents to Show an Executor

The family of a deceased person, or decedent, should assist the executor of the estate in every way possible. This includes providing documents the executor needs to settle the decedent’s estate. Some documents seem private, but the executor works as a personal representative of the decedent. She can’t settle the decedent’s estate without knowing personal details. If the family withholds information about assets or debts, the executor can take action through the probate court.

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