Executing A Will
Execute a Will
   Executing a Will | Receiving Inheritance

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Executing a Will

When someone dies, all the property of the decedent must be disposed through legal process known as probate or probate court. All personal property is referred to as the estate, and the legal settling of the will involves a person usually named as the executor. This person is responsible for administering the provisions of the last testament regarding how possessions are to be distributed. There are many duties involved when it comes to handling the affairs associated with someone's death, including retrieving important papers from the safety deposit box, making funeral arrangements, settling claims, paying estate and income tax, and distribution to heirs. This collective process is referred to as executing a will.

Often, a family member named as the executor under the will because of trust or legal expertise. Occasionally, there is more than one executor and the responsibilities fall on the shoulders of co-executors. Not quite infrequently, one of these people might be the deceased person's lawyer, an attorney who assisted in preparing a will so that it meets the legal requirements of the state in which it was written. Some states require that this person be a resident of the state. Appointing a second executor, also known as a successor executor, can be a good idea in case the first executor is unable to perform his duties. They will often find the will located in a safety deposit box. When it comes to distributing property, heirs usually hope to receive personal possessions, money, or property. Conflict of interest may arise if the executor is a beneficiary. For this reason, a person who is writing their will may want to consider carefully whom they name. Regardless, unless specified, the executor is often required by the state to post a bond against the contents of the estate.

The responsibilities of the executor will include 1) notifying friends and relatives; 2) obtaining medical and government death certificates; 3) making funeral arrangements; 4) contacting insurance companies; 5) seeing that inheritance taxes are paid; 6) obtaining the proper executor forms from the probate office; 7) filing income taxes, closing checking and savings accounts, and handling the distribution from other financial accounts such as stocks (a segregated bank account should be opened for handling funds associated with distribution of the estate; 8) handling claims (note that there are time limitations in which claims can be made; 9) arranging appointment for care of minors and pets; 9) and handling distribution of possessions and tangible property to heirs. Remember in advance that assets should not be hidden from the executor because these may take months or years to discover, causing long delays in final distributions to beneficiaries named in the will.
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