The executor of an estate has many important roles. One of the executor’s primary responsibilities is to notify the beneficiaries that they are named in the will.
It’s helpful for him or her to provide this information to the beneficiaries in writing and early in the process to allow them an opportunity to contest the will. It should also include the assets in the estate, the estate’s debts and information about the probate process.
The executor may not be able to provide the beneficiaries with detailed financial information initially and is not required to distribute inheritances at the time of this notification. The executor will likely need to complete an inventory of the estate and pay any debts first.
Timely distribution and decision-making
The executor must distribute the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries in a timely manner. This is to prevent the executor from filing the will in probate court, but then not following up.
Beneficiaries are not generally included in the executor’s decision-making process. Executors have authority from the court about how to manage the estate. However, the executor cannot withhold a beneficiary’s inheritance.
The executor has a fiduciary duty, which means he or she has an obligation to act in the estate’s best interest. He or she cannot take money from the estate, which includes distributing their own inheritance or paying themselves for executor duties before proper steps have been taken.
If the executor sells the estate’s property, it must be for fair market value. It’s important that the executor carries out his or her duties fully and correctly. If a person needs assistance with estate administration, an experienced attorney can help.