If a loved one has appointed you to be their Independent Executor/Executrix in the event of their death do you know what that really means? It can be confusing and a little scary but here are some things to keep in mind.
What is an Independent Executor?
First things first, what IS an Independent Executor? An executor is appointed in the will of a decedent (the person who passed away), to administer their estate. Generally, if the decedent died without a valid will, the term ‘administrator’ is used. When the court appoints an independent executor, the court issues “letters testamentary” to the appointed person. In the case of an administrator, the court issues “letters of administration”. Either type of letters tells third parties that the executor or administrator has been authorized by the court to administer the affairs of the decedent.
Your general duties as an Independent Executor (or Administrator) include: collect all assets, pay off any debts of the deceased, and to distribute the estate assets according to the Will or according to your state’s law.
How to Become Qualified as an Independent Executor/Administrator
You must become qualified in both of the following was in order to become an Independent Executor/Administrator:
- Take an oath with the Court: this must be done within 20 days from the date the court signed the order appointing you as Independent Executor.
- File any bonds that may be required by the court
Once the above has been completed, you will then receive Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. These are the proof that you are an authorized person to act on behalf of the estate. You will need to present these letters to persons holding the assets of the estate so that they know you are the representative of the estate. Once you have collected all of the assets you must then notify creditors.
How to Put a Notice Out to Creditors
By law you are required to publish a notice to creditors in a newspaper printed in the county where the Decedent was a resident of at the time of their passing. The notice must be filed with the court within 30 days of receiving Letters Testamentary (or Letters of Administration).
In addition, you must give notice to all known secured creditors. A secured creditor holds a claim secured by a deed of trust, mortgage or some other lien on a property. You must file this notice with the court within 60 days of receiving Letters Testamentary. There is also a process to deal with unsecured creditors but you’ll need to discuss those options with your attorney.
How to Notify Beneficiaries
If there is a beneficiary named in the Will, you must give them notice within 60 days of the date the Will was probated. Within 90 days you must file an affidavit or certificate with the court to confirm notice was given to said beneficiary.
You must also submit an Inventory (or an Affidavit in Lieu of Inventory to the court if the requirements are met), file taxes for the estate, and in certain cases you have the ability to sell estate property to pay estate expenses. Once all of the duties have been completed, you may close the estate.
We hope you found this article valuable and will continue to follow as we share more information on these types of subjects. Please reach out to The Hoggatt Law Firm, PLLC if you feel that we could assist you with any of the legal matters discussed in this article. The Hoggatt Law Firm, PLLC is ready to assist you with your estate planning, probate and business’ legal needs.
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