If you’ve been named the executor of a loved one’s estate after their passing, keep in mind what you need to know as a personal representative.
The personal representative or executor of an estate is the individual who must carry out the deceased’s wishes as outlined in their will. Typically, this person is someone close to the deceased, such as a relative or a close friend, which can complicate the proceedings for the individual named as the executor. They may not feel knowledgeable enough to carry out their role; what you need to know as a personal representative includes several things.
Open the Estate
The first order of business is to open the estate, which the executor can accomplish by filing a petition for probate. This can include sending the death certificate, along with other specified documents, to the Register of Wills. You will then receive a legal document giving you access to the estate to render the wishes of the deceased.
Identify the Assets of the Estate
After you receive the necessary documents opening the estate to you, you must gather all relevant assets of the estate. This includes:
- Real property interests
- Checking and savings account
- Business interests
- Brokerage accounts
- Unpaid amounts due to the deceased
Filing Tax Returns
The personal representative must prepare and file the necessary documents for all state and federal income tax returns for the deceased during the time they were alive. The decedent’s tax year terminates upon their death, making their estate a separate taxpayer in the eyes of the government. The executor is responsible for paying all necessary state and federal estate taxes.
Know When To Seek Assistance
As the executor of the estate, you may not feel that you’re qualified for the position. This is normal, as many people find the responsibility to be overwhelming at times. But there are resources that can help you manage the situation and professionals to help you navigate the legal proceedings. It’s not something you have to do alone; you can share the responsibility while still holding the final word on the affairs.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.