What To Do As Your Parent’s Executor

When drafting a will, many people will name one of their children to be their executor. If you have been named the executor of your parent’s will, that is a big responsibility. Here are a few points to consider. 

Get a Copy of the Will

As the executor of your parent’s will, you need to obtain the original copy of the document. A will outlines the testator’s final wishes and establishes your authority as the executor. Before working in the executor role, you should familiarize yourself with the will’s contents. This is the time to identify your parent’s beneficiaries and assets. As an executor, you need to understand all the obligations of this role.

Consult With Your Legal Team

While it may seem feasible to handle the executor duties by yourself, it may be a better idea to seek legal advice from an estate administration lawyer. Legal guidance can help you maneuver this intricate landscape. 


Complete an Asset Inventory and Appraisal

Creating a list of all assets and liabilities in the estate is important to execute the will. This inventory should cover all parts of the estate, including bank accounts, investments, real estate, personal property and any outstanding debts. Depending on the complexity of your parent’s estate, you might need to hire a professional appraiser to determine the value of certain assets.

Handle the Probate Process and Manage Finances

To legally validate the will and establish your authority as the executor, you need to go through the probate process. With that, you need to present the will to the court and file all necessary paperwork. When you receive court approval, you can begin fulfilling your responsibilities. 

You may want to open a dedicated estate bank account to manage all financial transactions. This account should be separate from your own finances. You never want to mix funds. Plus, a separate account can help to maintain financial transparency.

Settle Debts and Distribute Assets

You have the responsibility of settling any outstanding debts, taxes or administrative expenses. These expenses might include funeral expenses, bills and estate-related fees. 

After following the instructions in the will, you must distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. This process must be done fairly and following your parent’s documented wishes.

Keep Records and Stay Compliant

As an executor, you are legally required to keep detailed records of all financial transactions, communications and actions taken with the estate. This level of transparency allows you to provide a clear account of your activities during the process. When you have records, they can help protect you if there are any legal disputes or inquiries.

Deal With Legal Challenges

Executing a will can be a difficult task. Unforeseen complications, beneficiary disputes or complex legal issues can make it more demanding. If you encounter these situations, seek the advice of an experienced estate attorney. They can offer guidance to resolve any conflicts and help you stay compliant with the law.

Handle Matters With Integrity

As an executor, you need to prioritize the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries throughout your journey. If you want to avoid conflicts of interest and maintain your integrity, always be transparent. With that, you will want to inform close family members and the beneficiaries in the will about your role as the executor. Open communication promotes trust and clarity throughout the entire process. Plus, it may reduce disagreements from other parties. 

Find Out About Compensation

While you may consider it an honor to be the executor of your parent’s will, you are also entitled to compensation for your time and effort. The exact amount is determined under the will’s terms or by state laws. 

Reach Out To an Estate Planning Lawyer

If you need a New Jersey estate planning lawyer, the experienced attorneys at The Knee Law Firm in Hackensack may be able to help. You can contact us by calling 201-996-1200 or leaving a message via our website.