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Most people know they should have a will and that an executor plays an important role in an estate plan. On the other hand, few people understand just how big of a role it really is. If you have only a vague idea of what an executor does, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the broad range of duties and responsibilities placed on executors during estate planning under Missouri law.
Choosing an Executor Is One of the Biggest Decisions You Will Make
Under Missouri law, executors and administrators are typically referred to “personal representatives” and the terms “executor” and “personal administrator” are used interchangeably in estate planning documents regardless of whether an individual died with a will (testate) or without one (intestate).
Your executor will be responsible for a substantial amount of tasks, which is why it’s important to choose someone who is capable of handling the responsibilities involved. It’s equally crucial to select an individual who is willing to serve in such an important role. Here are just a few of the obligations your executor must fulfill:
Conduct an Inventory of the Assets
The inventory is one of the most important tasks the executor must perform and involves gathering all your assets, determining their value, and submitting this information to the probate court. The executor has a fiduciary duty to accurately report the value of each asset to the court. For some assets, such as real estate, it’s necessary for the executor to obtain an official appraisal to discover the asset’s correct value. Although the probate attorney provides invaluable assistance during the inventory stages of the case, the executor must devote a great deal of time and attention to this part of the probate process.
Your executor must also locate and communicate with the beneficiaries of your will. Although this may sound like a relatively straightforward task, it isn’t always easy. For example, in large families where beneficiaries span two or more generations, it’s not uncommon for several beneficiaries to live in other states or even outside the country. You should discuss this in detail with your estate planning attorney.
Communicate with Creditors
As part of the probate process, your executor is responsible for settling any remaining bills, including credit cards, medical bills, and utilities. Depending on the size of your estate, this can be a time-intensive task.
Transfer and Distribute Assets
One of your executor’s most critical duties is the transfer and distribution of assets. Your executor is responsible for ensuring real estate is properly transferred or sold. He or she must also distribute your final bequests to your beneficiaries.
Call an Estate Planning Attorney Today
These are just some of the many responsibilities placed on executors. Clearly, it’s important to choose someone with the maturity, intelligence, and dedication to handle your estate with care and attention. Call the estate planning and probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Randy L. Smith, LLC today at (417) 841-2775 to speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer about your options.
This website has been prepared by The Law Office of Randy L. Smith, LLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.