Managing legal battles with family

What Do You Need to Think About When the Time Comes for You to Execute the Will of a Departed Friend?

You may remember a conversation with a good, old friend of yours when he or she asked you, offhand, if you would be the executor of their estate. You may have agreed to this quite readily and moved on to another conversation without thinking too much about it. However, the time has come when you've got to live up to your promise and handle the affairs of the dearly departed. What do you need to think about as you begin this important job?

What's Involved?

The executor is a very important person when it comes to handling the affairs of somebody who has passed away. The individual will hopefully have created a will, which has all the details and outlines their wishes in the event of their death.

Several different tasks have to be undertaken at this point. In the beginning, you will need to deal with all the arrangements for the funeral service and make sure that that is scheduled and run properly. After this is all done, you need to pinpoint all of the deceased's assets and liabilities and settle these accounts. A legal instrument known as a "grant of probate" will then be issued, which gives you the power to distribute the contents of the estate and to execute the will.

Key Duties

Being the executor of an estate could be quite a lot of work. A value will have to be put on individual items that make up the bigger estate, and you may have to bring in outside experts to help you to do so.

You need to ensure that outstanding debts are all taken care of and that the assets in the property pool do not have any encumbrances. It's important to make sure that these assets are insured on an ongoing basis to protect them.

Are there any tax implications to take care of? Here you will need to bring in an accountant and possibly a lawyer who specialises in these areas.

Other Considerations

A number of different entities will have to be brought into the picture, from insurance companies to pension administrators and local regulators. Shut down any accounts that are no longer needed, and make sure that balances are brought into the equation for settlement. You may also have to look for individuals to act as trustees for any minors who may be affected.

Getting Help

Don't be surprised if this work takes a long time to bring together, and you may indeed be required to act as executor for many months or even a year. There is no reason why you can't get assistance from other family members or friends, and of course get legal help from a wills and estate lawyer to ensure everything is done properly. Remember to include your lawyer's legal fees as an expense when you are considering the accounts.