Most people in Georgia know a little about estate planning. Many people have a will and have named an executor in it. Some may know that their parents have named them the executor of their estates. However, it can be difficult to know everything that the job entails before performing it.
What executors do
Generally speaking, an executor carries out the instructions someone else has laid out in a will. Executors act as fiduciaries, meaning that they put the wishes of someone else first, rather than their own. In day-to-day terms, much of what an executor does is simply maintenance. They manage the estate of the decedent until it’s officially settled by the court.
Common responsibilities for estate executors include getting copies of death certificates, collecting mail and ensuring that accounts like credit cards are settled and closed. Before the estate can enter probate, the executor needs to find the original copy of the will, too.
Probate is the legal process of proving the will. During the probate process, assets and debts are identified. Bills are settled, and eventually, assets are distributed too. Executors are also known as personal representatives in some areas. Typically, an executor will post a bond to insure against errors they may make.
Estate administration can take a lot out of an executor, especially if the death was unexpected. Being an executor is something most adults will only do once or twice, usually for their own parents. During the probate process, it may be a good idea to work with an attorney experienced in probating wills. Probate court is focused on a very specific area of law, and not every lawyer will be used to that environment.