Most times before an individual appoints someone as executor of their estate, they’ll consult with them to let them know of such before they do so. Just because someone selects you to be their personal representative, though, it doesn’t mean that you’ll know what your responsibilities are when you’re called upon to exercise them.

In most cases, it’s only in those instances in which a person has served as an executor before or works as a financial planner or attorney that they actually understand what’s expected of them in this role. For everyone else, it’s a bit of a learning process.

If you’ve been appointed as executor of an estate, then one of the first responsibilities that you’ll need to carry out after the death of the testator is to take that document and file it with your local probate court. After that, you’ll be responsible for rounding up all of the decedent’s assets and preserving them.

One of perhaps the biggest responsibilities of an executor is to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will. Another is making sure to pay any outstanding taxes or debts that the estate owes.

Paying off final expenses such as funeral costs is another responsibility that an executor has. This is one of the debts that the executor should pay before making any distributions to beneficiaries. A personal representative will have to set up a bank account for the estate in which funds can be deposited, bills can be paid and from which distributions can eventually be made.

Also, if the will happens to be contested, then the onus will fall on the estate’s executor to secure letters from those who can speak to the decedent’s testamentary capacity, or competency, at the time it was written.

In cases in which an individual has collections, artwork, investment properties or other types of valuable assets, the executor is charged with having those appraised. It’s also his or her responsibility to attempt to best preserve any assets that aren’t promptly distributed, often times though investment.

Death often is unexpected, which makes it possible that an executor may be appointed without ever being given an option to learn more about their role. When you’re asked to step in and exercise your executor duties, it may be easiest to do under the guidance of an experienced Trenton estate planning and probate attorney.