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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are you doing a good job as executor?

So, you're acting as the executor of an estate. You're doing your best, but at times it's overwhelming. Ever wonder if you're doing a good job? Use this ten-step checklist to find out:

1. You started off by reading the Will thoroughly. You understand which people are involved, which assets you're responsible for, and your role.

2. You didn't assume you know the laws of Wills and probate. You asked a lawyer, read books and articles, and whatever else you needed to do to learn how to protect the estate, the beneficiaries and yourself.

3. You immediately took steps to look after the assets, and you continue to do that. You checked to make sure there is insurance on the house and you check in on the house itself regularly. You changed the locks. You put valuables such as jewelry and stock certificates in a secure place. You made sure that anyone acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney was made aware that he or she can't deal with the assets anymore. You made sure that all of the deceased's mail and bank/investment statements are being directed to you.

4. You got the probate application moving as soon as possible.

5. You are communicating openly with those entitled to estate information, but are protecting the deceased's privacy with those not entitled to information. You are being honest and accurate.

6. You are paying the deceased's debts as quickly as you can, given the availability of cash. You have either advertised for creditors, or have at least considered it.

7. You are gathering estate money into an estate bank account. You are investing estate money carefully. Estate investments are in the name of the estate, not your name. You are being careful to keep estate money separate from yours, and from anyone else's (such as the deceased's spouse).

8. You are being fair to all beneficiaries, even if you don't especially like all of them, or some of them are driving you crazy with requests. And just as importantly as actually being fair, you LOOK as if you are being fair to everyone.

9. You have asked an accountant to prepare the deceased's last tax return. You've talked to the accountant about whether there will be tax returns needed for the estate itself.

10. You are keeping detailed records, including bank statements, investment statements, a ledger of debts paid, receipts, invoices, and inventories.

Being an executor is rarely fun, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a nightmare. Hopefully this list will help keep you on track.


  1. can I exclude a sibling from an estate?

    1. Since you placed your question under a post about executors, I assume that you are the executor of the estate you mention (as opposed to it being your own estate).

      You can only do what the will says. If the will excludes the sibling, then you must exclude the sibling. If the will includes that person, then no you cannot exclude him/her.

      If you go against the will and exclude the person anyway, expect that person to sue you for what they were supposed to get from the estate.



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