If you have been named the executor of a loved one’s estate, you will have a big responsibility to perform someday. Before your family member passes away, you should know exactly what it means to be an executor in Ohio: what your duties will be and what can happen.
Essentially, the executor’s job is to make sure the decedent’s final wishes for their assets are carried out. This means paying off the decedent’s creditors and distributing the remainder to their chosen heirs. Here are some examples of things that most executors must do to complete the job:
- Gather all the deceased’s assets. Hopefully, they kept organized records of their property in a place you know about and can access, such as a safe or filing cabinet. Otherwise, you may have to search to make sure you include everything.
- Deciding whether the estate needs to go through probate. Keep in mind that you will at least have to file the will with the probate court. However, it may not be necessary to pass some of the assets through the probate process.
- Contacting the heirs.
- Setting up a bank account to hold the estate’s funds and using it to pay off creditors, continuing recurring payments like the deceased’s mortgage, pay taxes, and distribute the remainder to the heirs as directed by the will.
- Wrap up the decedent’s affairs. For example, close out their credit cards and notifying the Social Security Administration that the decedent has died.
- Finally, distributing the assets to the heirs according to the terms of the will or Ohio’s intestacy laws, whichever applies.
As an executor, you owe a fiduciary duty to the estate that requires you to act in good faith at all times. An accusation that you have embezzled funds from the estate or otherwise violated the fiduciary duty can lead to litigation against you. Fortunately, you can turn to a probate attorney for advice and assistance with your executor duties. Not only can this help you wrap up the estate more quickly, but a lawyer’s help may also protect you from a potential lawsuit.