Being the executor of an estate could be an intimidating responsibility for a Massachusetts resident. Many people are not quite sure what they are supposed to do in this position. Fortunately, understanding the duties can help, and it is not necessary to go through the probate process alone.
An executor has three main duties. These are to locate all of the decedent's assets, pay his or her bills and distribute whatever assets are remaining to the heirs. Perhaps the most time-consuming and tedious of these tasks is gathering the information about certain assets and securing all physical and digital assets.
Perhaps the most important item to locate is the will. The will needs to be filed with the court, along with a petition officially appointing the executor and a copy of the death certificate. Actually, numerous copies of the death certificate will be needed since nearly everyone will need it in response to a request.
For example, if there is a life insurance policy, the executor will need to provide the death certificate to the company before the beneficiary of the policy can be paid. During the probate process, it may also be necessary to deal with family members. Others can contest the will, and minor disagreements can turn into expensive and time-consuming battles.
Massachusetts residents who are contemplating serving as someone's executor might benefit from first understanding what will be expected of them before accepting this responsibility. Most executors choose to enlist the assistance of attorneys who routinely handle the probate process. This can take at least some of the pressure off the executor, which makes the process less intimidating and cumbersome.
Source: thestreet.com, "You Are Executor of an Estate -- Now What?", Mark Henricks, March 18, 2016