The duties of an executor

Florida residents who have been named as an executor under a person’s will might wonder what the process involves. The first thing an executor needs to do is to locate the will and get several copies of a death certificate. Once approved by the probate court, the executor can begin handling the different parts of the estate.

One of those parts is the probate process. Any stocks, certificates of deposit and similar items must go through probate. Assets like life insurance simply require presenting a death certificate and do not go through probate. Physical household items such as furniture go through the probate process, while trusts do not. The executor may hire professionals to deal with various aspects including an attorney, a financial planner and a real estate agent if necessary.

An estate can be settled in around six months, but complications can make it last far longer. For example, if the children or other family members of the decedent have a dispute, the process can last a year or more. Some experts say the chance of dispute can be minimized by appointing multiple executors and choosing the person who has the best organizational skills rather than defaulting to the oldest child.

Even an estate that seems relatively straightforward may have some confusing aspects such as when and how taxes might be levied or other legal requirements. Furthermore, a mismanaged estate can be costly. Houses need taxes, insurance and utility bills paid, and if the executor takes a long time figuring out what to do with an asset, the expenses can deplete the estate. People who are named as executors are generally not expected to be experts, and this is why consulting professionals might be so important.