Duties of an Independent Executor
“Death is not the End. There remains the litigation over the estate.” Ambrose Bierce
Once a will is admitted to probate (accepted by the court), an independent executor is appointed. The job of the executor is to act on behalf of all persons with rights in the estate – the beneficiaries and the creditors. The executor is a fiduciary, and owes the highest trust and responsibility to the estate.
The executor has immediate time deadlines after being appointed.
- 20 days – take and file an oath, file a bond (if required), and obtain a document called “Letters Testamentary” from the probate clerk’s office. He must immediately take possession of all personal property and business records of the estate.
- This includes changing locks on real property, arranging for storage and non-perishable personal property, selling perishable personal property, obtaining insurance proceeds payable to the Estate, and setting up appropriate bank accounts for estate funds and canceling credit cards
- One month – publish a notice to creditors in the newspaper, and file a copy and the publisher’s affidavit.
- 60 days – give notice to (or obtain waivers from ) the beneficiaries, and file an affidavit with the clerk.
- 90 days – file a sworn inventory, appraisement and list of claims due the estate.
- Four months -give notice by certified mail to all secured creditors and any general claimants if he has actual knowledge of a debt or claim
Throughout this time, and until the estate is distributed, the executor must manage the property. This includes maintaining written records of expenditures of estate funds, obtaining property insurance on non-cash assets, handling creditor’s claims, collecting claims due to the decedent, and disposing of property.
An executor is required to act through an attorney with the Court. That’s where we come in. We’ve handled simple and complex estate, fiduciary litigation, contested wills, and almost every variation. If you have an estate matter, give us a call.