I remember when I first heard the phrase “team work makes the dream work.”
It’s pretty silly, right?
But when you are dreaming of completing your executor responsibilities as efficiently and effectively as you can, getting the right team working together with you is going to make that dream a reality.
As you are starting in the executor role, who do you need to help you (and why)?
You are here on our site already, so you know we are on your team. Your executor.org plan is going to help you understand your executor responsibilities and how to do them. You’ve got this. We’re here to help.
The vast majority of executors are going to need an estate attorney on their team. While each state is different, as an example, if you live in Ohio, here’s what they have to say: “Legal practice in the Probate Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Due to the complexity of the law and desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney.”
When someone dies, it triggers a legal process to settle the estate. It’s a safe bet that regardless of the rules in the deceased’s state of residence, you will need the help of an estate attorney. An estate attorney files the deceased’s will at the probate court and is with you through the probate process. For example, in the San Antonio, Texas, that looks like filing an application for probate with the probate court, having a notice filed during a waiting period, and having a hearing with the probate judge.
But remember to hire an attorney who practices in the place where the deceased lived, not where you live. The will must be filed in the deceased’s place of residence so be sure to get the right attorney on your team.
Did you know that even death doesn’t get you off the hook for filing taxes? As executor, you will likely need to hire an accountant to prepare the appropriate tax forms, which can be the regular yearly taxes as well as the estate tax return.
Chances are if the deceased owned property, it is probably going to be in the best interest of the estate to get a good realtor on your team. They are going to have the resources to accurately price and widely advertise the property, handling the logistics of a sale.
In many estates, the estate assets, including personal property (like all of the contents of a home) are distributed in the will. But what happens in the case where the will says the contents of the house are to be equitably divided between the beneficiaries and after they get the things they want, there are still rooms full of items no one wants? You will likely want to check with the estate accountant (to see if donation would be more fiscally responsible, for example), but the solution may be to sell the items and split the proceeds among the beneficiaries. To do this, you’ll want a good estate auctioneer/estate sale company on your team so you can get the best bang for your buck.
At this point, you may be sweating the cost of all of these professionals and their bills for services rendered. But don’t worry. Professionals who work for the estate on estate matters like described above are paid by the estate. You do not incur these costs personally. Of course, you can’t take this too far or you will get into some real trouble. So even though you may feel like you deserve a massage on the estate’s dime, don’t do it. Only legitimate estate expenses are covered by the estate.
Completing your executor duties can seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Assembling the right team is key to completing the executor role.