Having parents tell you they want you to serve as the executor of their estate will likely lead to a mix of emotions. There is the inevitable sense of pride that comes when your parents recognize that you are not only a capable adult but that they trust you with the details of their estate.
Then, shortly after the initial wave of pride, there is likely a bit of concern. Maybe some confusion.
If you find yourself asking questions like:
- What do I do next?
- What does this mean?
- What even is an executor anyway?
Know that you are not alone. This piece will answer these questions and help to better ensure you are able to transition smoothly into this role when needed.
What is an executor?
An executor is the individual that administers the estate. This individual is generally responsible for filing the will and death certificate with the probate court. When this is done, you can also likely get at letter of testamentary. This official document states that you are the executor and will be essential for the tasks that follow. Tasks that include closing accounts and transferring assets.
There are various checklists online that can help you to get a better idea of what the job likely entails, though the particulars vary with each estate and depending on applicable laws.
How can I make sure I get it right?
One of the biggest tips is to talk to your parents. It helps to make sure you understand their plan their wishes. This can give you peace of mind if you deal with siblings or other loved ones who question your decisions. You can move forward with more confidence, knowing you are doing what your parents wanted.
The job is not always an easy one. Aside from family squabbles, the logistics and legalities that come with estate administration are complex. You do not have to go through the process alone. If the estate is particularly complex it may be wise to seek legal counsel to help guide you through the process.