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The Executor’s Cheat Sheet, Elder Law Attorney, Woodstock, GA


One of the most important things someone can do to best ensure their estate is handled without a hitch is to appoint the right person as the estate’s executor, sometimes called a representative. So what do you need to do if you’ve been appointed an executor of someone’s estate? Being selected as an executor is not only an honor, but a responsibility to the person who named you, as well as to his or her heirs. It’s also a complex job, requiring working with many types of professionals. And the duties can last for a considerable amount of time, even years, depending on the complexity of the estate. All executors receive a stipend or “commission” paid from estate assets for their services.

A recent Forbes article, titled“What an Executor of an Estate Needs to Do,” says that if you’re appointed to be an executor, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you through the steps in settling the estate.

When settling an estate, an executor is in charge of these basic functions:

  • Locating, collecting, and being responsible for the estate’s assets until they are distributed to the beneficiaries.
  • Paying the decedent’s debts and estate administration expenses.
  • Handling tax matters, including filing the decedent’s and the estate’s income tax returns and paying the income taxes, if any.
  • Distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the terms of the will.

The financial responsibilities of an executor mean that he or she must make an investment analysis of all assets in the estate to determine which to sell and how the estate’s cash needs will be met. The majority of the administrative work in handling an estate is recordkeeping.

The executor must first arrange for his or her court appointment in probate court to obtain “Letters Testamentary,” which permits the executor to represent the estate to third parties such as banks and financial companies to collect, liquidate and distribute assets and other tasks. The executor must compile information about the decedent’s finances and then sell or divide certain assets among those named to receive them in the will or to pay taxes.

In addition, the executor must cancel the decedent’s credit cards, have utilities turned off and pay expenses such as rent, taxes and insurance premiums. Home repairs or maintenance may also be needed. The executor will also need to open an estate bank account to hold the collected assets. These funds are used to pay the bills.

An estate planning attorney can be a huge help with this process to ensure that everything is done right and that the decedent’s estate is settled in an efficient manner.

Reference: Forbes (August 26, 2015) “What an Executor of an Estate Needs To Do”

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“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”

- Bonnie

Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.

- Hope

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce