When someone designates you as the executor of his or her will, you become the personal representative, i.e., estate administrator, of his or her probate estate when he or she dies. As such, you will need to perform various duties in order to open, manage and ultimately close the estate and distribute its assets to the decedent’s heirs.
Per the IRS, your initial duties likely will consist of obtaining Letters Testamentary from the Probate Court, after which you will need to do the following:
- Collect and secure the decedent’s assets
- Inventory the assets and file a written inventory with the court
- Determine and notify the decedent’s creditors of his or her death
- Verify any creditor claims they file with the court
- Pay any outstanding bills the decedent owed
- Manage the estate, possibly including selling some of its assets so as to have sufficient funds to pay bills, etc.
In addition to all of the above, your responsibilities include filing the following types of tax returns and paying any taxes due:
- Income tax return for the decedent for the current year and any previous years for which he or she failed to file a return
- Income tax return for the estate
- Federal and state estate tax returns, if applicable
Once you have paid all of the decedent’s creditors and tax liabilities, you will need to make a final accounting showing everything that came into and went out of the estate during your administration thereof. You will file this accounting with the Probate Court, along with a Petition for Final Distribution. Once the court sustains your petition, you can then distribute the estate’s remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs in accordance with the provisions of his or her will.