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The duties of an estate executor

We all have to make decisions at some point in life. Many of these decisions must be made when one engages in the estate planning process. After evaluating an individual's assets and debts, he or she must determine how to distribute them upon his or her death and whether there will be any contingencies attached to the passing down of wealth. Once an individual obtains a clear sense of this larger picture, he or she can begin to put together the legal documents necessary to carry out his or her vision.

One way to ensure that one's vision for his or her estate will be carried out appropriately is to name an estate executor in his or her will. An executor has a number of duties that can be overwhelming, so this individual should be carefully chosen. Those duties can include locating the deceased individual's assets and protecting them, which may force an executor to make a decision about which assets to sell and which to keep as is. An executor will also have to ensure that the estate's property is properly passed down to beneficiaries. This means the executor may have to track down and contact beneficiaries.

Those are just a few of the many duties an executor must complete. He or she will also have to wrap up the deceased individual's affairs, which is no small task. This can include cancelling credit cards and notifying the federal government to inform it that Social Security payments should stop. The executor will also have to ensure that certain expenses are paid, such as mortgage on a home, until all assets are distributed to their rightful heirs. Similarly, an executor will need to contact a deceased individual's creditors to pay off debts prior to distributing the estate to heirs, and the final year's income taxes must also be paid.

Serving as an executor is a big job that carries massive responsibilities. With that in mind, those who are thinking about naming an executor in their will should think carefully before making that decision. Although it may be beneficial to choose someone an individual knows, it can also create familial strife. In the event that an executor is not named in a will, then the court will appoint an administrator. Thus, it may be wise to thoroughly discuss the matter with a qualified legal professional before making a decision on this matter.

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