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What are my responsibilities as the executor of an estate?

When a loved one passes away, it can be quite difficult to settle his or her estate. The process of actually getting the right assets to the appropriate beneficiaries can be quite complex, and there may be disputes over the estate. If you learned that you are named as the executor of an estate, you may find it beneficial to seek guidance as you navigate this process.

Most Washington readers may not understand the roles and responsibilities of the executor of an estate. You may not know what to expect from this process, and even an inadvertent mistake can lead to complications and unnecessarily lengthen this process.

What is an executor?

As an executor of an estate, you will have the responsibility of ensuring that the distribution of the decedent's estate goes according to his or her will. Ultimately, your responsibility will be to pay off any remaining debts and make sure beneficiaries get their rightful inheritance. As the executor, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • You will have to locate and appropriately value all assets of the estate.
  • You must contact all people mentioned in the will and decide if probate in court is necessary.
  • You will need to wrap up all of the decedent's affairs in an appropriate manner, such as canceling credit cards.
  • You will have to pay off remaining debts and deal with any creditors acting against the estate.
  • Your role requires you to distribute property and pay final income taxes.

As the executor, you will not make a profit off the sale and distribution of estate assets. It is a responsibility, and the decedent may have chosen you by name. You may feel overwhelmed by the requirements of this task, and you may feel unsure of where to begin, but you do not have to walk through it alone.

Don't walk through estate administration alone

The estate administration process is complex. It can be overwhelming and confusing, but you may find it beneficial to start by seeking a complete evaluation of your case. With help, you can avoid pitfalls and unnecessary setbacks, which can allow you to resolve your responsibilities in a timely manner.

Sometimes, there is a contest to the will such as when someone believes that undue influence played a role in the decedent's estate planning. Whether there is a complication with the estate or you simply wish to make sure you understand what is expected of you as the executor of an estate, you have no time to lose in learning more about your rights, options, and responsibilities.