What To Do If You Are Named Executor of a Will in Illinois
If you have been named Executor of another person’s will in Illinois, then you are probably wondering what needs to be done during the person’s lifetime and upon their death. Acting as an Executor is a crucial role but one fraught with peril for those without legal knowledge or the assistance of a probate attorney.
Being an Executor While the Testator is Living
When the person who made the Will (a/k/a the testator) is still living, there is very little that needs to be done. The two things you will want to do are (1) read the Will and keep a copy for your records, and (2) speak with the Testator to determine their preferred funeral arrangements and estate distribution plans. Reviewing the Will and speaking with the person in advance is helpful when it comes time to act as Executor.
Acting as Executor Upon the Testator’s Death
Upon the Testator’s death, you will begin acting as Executor. Speaking with a Lake County probate attorney is crucial to make sure you understand the requirements for the position. Being an Executor is not an easy task, and you can decline to act if you believe you are not able to handle the role efficiently and effectively. If you do decide to act as Executor, then you will need to file the original Will with the Court and open a probate estate with the Court. (As an aside, original Wills are required to be filed with the Court upon a person’s passing. Purposefully “secreting” a will is a crime).
Opening a Probate Estate
You have no doubt heard of the probate process, and how burdensome it is. This is overstated, as probate now can be done efficiently provided that the family is not fighting over assets and there are no major unpaid creditors lurking out there. But probate will require multiple Court appearances and plentiful Court filings. This is burdensome and often best left to a probate attorney such as the probate attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC.
Once you have been appointed Executor of the estate by the probate Court, you will receive letters of office (a/k/a letters testamentary) that will give you authority to interact with financial institutions and open an estate operating account. Your goal is to collect the assets and then distribute them according to the Will. While on paper this sounds simple enough, it can be a trying process that is further complicated by the need to provide an accounting to beneficiaries of the assets. A dutiful probate attorney will prepare an accounting on your behalf to present to the beneficiaries.
After you have collected all the assets it is time to distribute the assets. After the payment of all valid debts, you can distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the Will in the manner specified. You will of course want to retain assets to pay estate taxes, file an estate tax return and fiduciary tax return, and the decedent’s final income tax return.
Closing the Estate
After paying all of the creditors and distributing all of the assets, it is time to close the estate. Again, it is crucial to speak with a probate attorney before proceeding down this path as there are a lot of perils that can put the Executor in danger of being sued.
Contact the Gurnee Probate Lawyers at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC To Discuss Acting as an Executor
If you have been named as an Executor of a Will, then your fiduciary obligations are many and it is important to speak with a probate attorney before proceeding. You may decide not to act as Executor, or if you do, you will want experienced legal assistance to make sure you do not violate any fiduciary duties and get personally sued by any interested party. You certainly don’t want your personal assets put at risk because of errors in the probate process. If you are named as an Executor and are concerned about acting, contact the Gurnee probate attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC today to discuss your concerns.
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