There are many aspects to estate planning, all of which need to be carefully considered. Amongst those is choosing estate executors and trust administrators. These individuals are charged with managing either an individual trust or the estate as a whole, and they carry a fiduciary duty, meaning that their decisions must be in the best interests of the estate and/or trust in question. Therefore, those selected to serve in these roles need to be carefully selected. Also, those who are chosen and those who choose to serve in these capacities need to understand what they are getting themselves into.
There are many tasks an estate executor must take on. First of all, he or she must inventory the estate to account for all assets and debts. This is not as easy as it sounds. Some assets, for example, may be difficult to valuate, meaning that they will need to be subjected to appraisal. Once an inventory is complete, the executor must pay off all estate debts as well as maintain ongoing expenses, such as a house mortgage and utilities. Once debts are paid off, then assets can be distributed in accordance with the estate plan.
However, an executor’s duties don’t stop there. Final expenses, such as funeral costs, will need to be paid, and the names on certain accounts will need to be changed. Also, certain government agencies will have to be notified to cease benefits. This often arises when a now deceased individual was receiving Social Security benefits. Additionally, taxes will need to be filed and paid in a timely manner.
As you can see, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the duties associated with serving as executor to an estate. For this reason, many Arizonans find it beneficial to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that they are operating in full compliance with the law and in accordance with what is best for the estate.