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Dorothea J. Kingsbury Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

There is little glory in the job of an estate executor

Anyone who has ever served as the executor of a loved one's estate will likely say it is both an honor and a burden. In fact, few who have the experience ever want to repeat it, and they may take extra care in choosing their own executors to avoid leaving loved ones with the stress and frustration the duties entail.

If you have recently learned that a loved one named you executor in his or her will, or if a court appointed you to the position, you probably have concerns about being able to fulfill the duties effectively. These concerns are well-founded since settling an estate is complicated, and because an executor serves in a fiduciary role for the estate, you may be responsible for any errors or mishaps that occur during the process.

The nuts and bolts of probate

Even with the simplest estates, the duties of an executor are many. In fact, one quality an estate executor should have is time, so if your work, family and personal obligations are inflexible, you can certainly decline the position. Additionally, since many of your responsibilities deal with money, you might feel you are not right for the role if you have little skill with paying taxes and managing bills.

In general, your duties will include the following:

  • Gathering your loved one's assets and keeping them safe
  • Locating and contacting anyone whom your loved one named as an heir
  • Filing the appropriate paperwork with the court
  • Paying your loved one's final taxes, debts and bills and closing bank and financial accounts
  • Distributing any remaining assets as stipulated in the will or by Ohio laws

You may have to continue making mortgage or insurance payments until the probate process is complete. Additionally, you will be responsible for contacting the Social Security Administration to discontinue any payments your loved one was receiving.

You don't have to handle it alone

The process may become complicated in countless ways. For example, when executors have difficulty locating heirs, it is often necessary to hire investigators to find and notify them. This will certainly delay probate, and you will likely have to deal with the frustrations of other beneficiaries. These heirs may already be impatient waiting for creditors to decide how they will proceed with the collection of any outstanding debts. Creditors often take up to a year to complete this phase.

Because every family is unique, only you can make a fair guess at how the probate of your loved one will proceed. However, if you feel your energy would be better spent grieving with family than sorting through your loved one's bills, you may decide to seek assistance from an attorney.

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Good Advice. Real Solutions.

I am attorney Dorothea J. Kingsbury. I provide good advice and real solutions to challenging problems. I can help you choose and personalize estate planning instruments that meet your family's present and future needs. I can develop elder law strategies that ensure proper care for your loved ones. I can guide you through the probate/estate administration process when a family member has passed away. I can help make sure your interests are protected during your real estate transaction. I am here to make things easier.

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