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5 things to know if you are an estate executor

It is common for an individual to choose a relative or close and trusted friend to serve as executor of the estate when the time comes. For example, your parents or another loved one may have asked you to be the executor of their estate when they pass. While you probably felt honored at being entrusted with such an important task, it is important to remember that an executor's duties can be extremely complex and time-consuming.

Before you accept the role of executor, you should take the time to consider the full scope of the tasks you will have to perform. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you accept the position of estate executor.

Do you have enough time?

Acting as the executor of an estate can often take an immense amount of time. It can often take more than one year to completely close out a loved one's estate. You may have to make multiple trips to the courthouse, spend time working with an accountant to prepare tax documents and dealing with other legal and financial issues along the way. These tasks can be even more difficult if you are grieving a loved one at the same time you are acting as his or her executor.

Are you organized?

Your duties as an executor will require you to be highly organized. You will have to keep multiple copies of official documents, including the death certificate and other filings. In addition, you must keep a detailed record of every conversation or encounter you have with financial advisors, bankers, lawyers and anyone else you deal with concerning the closure of the estate. If you are not a detail-oriented person, the record-keeping alone may too much to effectively handle.

Can you handle it?

During the administration of the estate, you will have to come into contact with a wide variety of people. Some of them may not be as helpful or cooperative as you would prefer. This can cause even more stress for someone trying to juggle one's life along with the needs of the estate. The role of estate executor can be extremely stressful, so be sure you have the right temperament to deal with the frustration you will more than likely experience.

Do you know what you have to do?

Before you accept the duties of executor, be sure you understand what that entails and the rules you will have to follow. Not only does the federal government have certain rules you must follow, especially when it comes to filing tax documents and returns for the estate, but the state of California will also have its own set of regulations regarding estate administration. Take the time to become familiar with the rules and laws you will have to follow as an executor working on behalf of the estate.

Can you afford it?

If your mother lives in Los Angeles and you live in Portland, you might have to travel to California on more than one occasion to sign papers or meet with lawyers or financial professionals. Even though you can complete many tasks remotely through email, there will probably be at least a few times when you will have to complete a transaction or task face-to-face.

While the estate plan might have a provision to pay you for your time or reimburse travel expenses, you might end up having to pay some of the related expenses out of your own pocket. Can you afford to take the time necessary to act as executor and possibly pay for your own travel during the process?

The duties of an estate executor are often complex and time-consuming. Before you accept the position of executor, be sure you have what it takes to handle the estate administration tasks you will have to perform.

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