When your loved informed you that you would be the executor of their will, you likely thought you were up to the job. Now that they have passed away, you might be panicking about discharging your duties. Managing their estate may daunt you, since it has so many moving parts. But by understanding an executor’s role, you can fulfill it to the best of your ability.
Probating the will
In Oregon, your loved one’s will must go through probate court if it includes more than $75,000 in personal property and more than $200,000 in real property. Before this property disburses, though, you must have the will proved. When creating their will, your loved one likely included a self-proving affidavit. This affidavit – signed by your loved one and two witnesses – provides evidence of the will’s validity. In its absence, the witnesses must testify that they saw your loved one sign the will – and that they were in a sound mind to do so.
Upon examining your loved one’s will, you will discover the identities of their beneficiaries. You have the fiduciary duty – as the executor – to locate these people and notify them of their inheritance once the will is proved. You must also make sure they receive this money and property. Failing to communicate with them, whether on purpose or by accident, could lead to challenges to your loved one’s will – and to the continued fulfillment of your role.
As an executor, you are responsible for gathering and managing your loved one’s assets after they die. You must safeguard these until they disburse in probate court. If your loved one had debts or tax obligations, you must satisfy these using their available assets. Their beneficiaries cannot receive their inheritance – or what remains of it – until these are paid.
Your loved one may have received government benefits – like Social Security or Medicare – at the time of their death. If they did, you will need to contact the appropriate agency to terminate these. Likely, your loved one had several credit cards, too. So long as they had no outstanding balance, you will need to contact the credit card companies and cancel their accounts. You will also need to cancel any mail service and news subscriptions they receive. And if your loved one has any continued expenses – like a mortgage – you must continue to pay these until you sell or disburse their property.