An executor is the person in charge of managing a deceased person’s estate. An executor is nominated in a Will. If a person dies without doing a Will, the person in charge of the estate is called the administrator.
In order to be appointed as executor or administrator once an individual has passed away, a probate or administration proceeding must be filed in Surrogate’s court. The court then appoints a person as executor or administrator and gives him or her all of the powers of an executor or administrator.
Typically, an executor has a lot of responsibilities, which include making an inventory of the estate’s property, obtaining appraisals, paying debts and expenses, opening a checking account for the estate, maintaining financial records, filing any tax returns of the estate or the deceased, and giving property to the heirs. Executors get compensated for their duties in accordance with state law. Many executors hire attorneys to help with the probate process, and the expenses for that come out of the estate.
In some cases, a Will may appoint an executor, but that person may not actually have to do anything. The estate may pass to beneficiaries without going through probate. This commonly occurs when a person leaves all of his assets to his or her spouse using transfer on death forms and joint property ownership. This can also occur when the deceased sets up a revocable living trust, which bypasses the need for probate. In that situation, the trustee will be the person in charge of paying debts and transferring assets.
Although an executor’s duties may sound complex and overwhelming, an experienced probate attorney can make the process simple. If you have been named as an executor in New York and you are seeking assistance with probate, call the probate attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer at 716-542-5444. Our attorneys are skilled at probate matters and will be happy to help you through the process.