Individuals in New York who are appointed the executor of a friend or family member's will may wonder what the role involves. An executor has a number of duties around inventorying and distributing assets and paying off debts.
An executor must locate both the assets and the heirs of the decedent. It is also necessary to file the will in probate court. In some cases, depending on the size of the estate, the will may not have to go through probate, but this step is still necessary. The executor may want to open a bank account in the name of the estate to handle finances. Debts must be paid, and in some cases, expenses like mortgages and home insurance may need to be paid while the probate is pending. Tax returns must also be filed for the final year of the decedent's life.
It is also necessary to notify certain companies and institutions. In addition to contacting creditors, this may include informing the Social Security Administration and the deceased person's bank. Finally, the executor must make sure that all assets find their way to the people for whom they were intended. Any assets not mentioned in the will or other documents such as trusts are distributed by the state.
The role of an executor can be a complex one, and an individual who is not experienced in finance or law may wish to consult an attorney for assistance. Those who are preparing a will may also wish to discuss the position of executor with the person they hope to appoint. It is also possible to appoint an attorney as an executor. However, an attorney can also guide an executor through the process of probate and administration of the estate.