What is an executor?
Now, the meaning of Executor (personal representative) “A person or institution appointed by a testator (a person who has made a will or given a legacy) to carry out the terms of their will.”
The chosen Executor(s) will need to bear in mind, whatever the Will states, he/she will need to carry them out according to the will. This is important, because your will is your last wish.
Once you choose you executor it is important to seek their consent. Not everyone can carry the weight of a person who has died, the responsibility holds a big part. Why? Let me explain..
These are the most commonly required steps an executor should do:
- Locating your will
The executor must first locate the original and most recent will that the Testator left. By this time, the executor must know where it is located, if they do not, he/she will need to search for it with the help of the deceased’s family.. Most people believe the best place to keep a will is at the safe deposit box in a bank. But remember, the first thing the bank does when they come to know a client has deceased is to freeze all their accounts, including the safe deposit box. Imagine heading to the bank and asking them to open a safe deposit box that does not belong to the executor and now having a legal document to proof otherwise. We highly recommend safekeeping the will with your chosen executor themself, your spouse or in a safe in the house.
Some people document their funeral wishes in the will itself. Remember the executor’s job is the deal with your estate, not with your body. We do not recommend including your funeral wishes into your will instead document it in a separate document and give it to your family when the time is right. Moreover the family will attend to the needs of the funeral first before moving on to the will. now that the funeral is taken care of and the will has been located, let’s move on to the next step.
- Applying to the court for a grant of probate
The next step is to apply to probate the Will so that the assets can be dealt with legally. This may require legal assistance. A will search might need to be done with any government body in order to verify that the will submitted is the updated will. The application for Grant of Probate should be applied to the High Court. The entire process will roughly take from about three to 6 months depending on the size of the estate. Once the probate is granted and extracted, the executor can collect all the deceased’s assets into his/her possession to first settle all the deceased’s debts and liabilities. This will grant the executor(s) the legal right to administer the estate.
- Calling in your assets
The executor must be responsible for getting all the right information of the will, such as stocks, bonds, or money market investments; real estate; direct investments; or even collectibles like art. This will be accounted for, along with transferring the assets to the correct party or parties.
- Paying off your liabilities
All prospective creditors must be given an opportunity to stake a claim on the estate. The Executor must advertise for anybody who may have a claim against the estate. Creditors with a valid claim can recover their debt at any time, even after the estate has been distributed to the beneficiaries.
The Executor is accountable to the beneficiaries for the assets of the deceased. It is therefore vital that accurate records are maintained when dealing with all debts, expenses, taxes, and the distribution of the estate. The executor must have accurate records of bills and documents. It is vital to have all the information up to date when dealing with debts, expenses, taxes, and distribution of the estate. They need to maintain it throughout the process before proceeding with the Will hearing for the property and assets to be distributed.
If the testator has left any debts or taxes, it is the duty of the executor to ensure everything is paid off. When people agree to be an executor, they think it will be in years to come before they have any work. No, this is not true, doing the required work means you will have to work immediately. “The future is uncertain, and the end is always near”. I do agree with the wise words from Jim Morrison, your responsibility as an executor can be at any time.
- Distributing your assets according to your will
From the time of death of the testator, their assets will be frozen until the Grant ofProbate has been safely received at the hands of the executor. Once it is acknowledged, the executor has the legal authority to administer the estate accordingly, however, any property or assets held mutually between a married couple, it can automatically be passed on to the living spouse upon the presentation of the Death certificate. The executor must now notify everyone who has an interest in a property or assets.
When an executor is appointed, they act as your trustee holding your assets until it is fully distributed. Your trustee will be subjected to the responsibility by the Trustee Act 1949.
When your executor takes charge of your assets, he will also take the role of a trustee holding your assets on trust for your beneficiaries until the assets are fully distributed.
As you can see, the responsibilities of an executor is crucial. they have to be sharp, good in numbers and strict in dealing with authorities and the likes.
If you have someone in mind that you would like to be your executor, and they have not been reliable, for instance, have never filed their own taxes, and do not show up when you need them too, you probably need to find someone else. Before choosing the right executor(s) you would need to appoint someone who is skilled and trustworthy because picking the right executor can ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and accuracy on how you would want to distribute your assets. The testator can choose anyone, usually a lawyer or accountant however family member(s) and even close friends can be named as executors. As a testator, you can choose one of four adults (maximum) who are 21 years old and above and no prior felony charges. Bear in mind, when choosing an executor, they just need to be trustworthy and capable.
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