So you have been appointed to be an administrator or an executor of an estate. You probably have several questions of what your duties and responsibilities are. These are important questions to have answered, as failure to perform your job well may result in personal liability.
So what are your duties as an executor or administrator? Here is a partial list of those duties.
OPEN THE ESTATE
The first thing that needs to happen is to timely open the estate. Your first stop should be a local probate lawyer so you can have guidance for your particular case. However, the first court official to interact with is the probate clerk. You need to schedule a meeting with your local probate clerk and to get information related to what documentation is required to open the estate.
Common examples of required documentation include copies of the will and any accompanying documents and a certified death certificate. You need to bring these to the probate clerk where your family member last lived.
After the case has been opened, you will have to provide the court with several accountings. These accountings are supposed to show the flow of money both into and out of the estate. For example, if there is cash sitting in a bank account, that must be accounted for. If that money is used to pay a creditor, that must also be accounted for and provided to the court.
You will have to file several accountings, at least once a year.
CREATE AN INVENTORY
If there is any personal property, that will need to be detailed on an inventory. This document will catalogue personal property such as jewelry, clothes, vehicles, tools, etc. The purpose of an inventory is to notify the court and various officials as to what property is available if something needs to be sold to satisfy a debt. It also allows the court to disburse that property if there is a specific bequest in the will.
RESPOND TO CREDITORS
Throughout a probate proceeding, creditors are likely to file proofs of claim detailing their claims to the estate. You may need to respond to these claims and hold hearings on the sufficiency of these claims.
WHY YOU NEED A LAWYER
A lawyer is important because you need to meet all of these obligations. Failure to do so may result in personal liability. Therefore, before you begin any of this work, consult a probate lawyer near you. Always keep in mind, you may not have to serve as an executor if you don't feel comfortable doing so.