When someone trusts you enough to ask you to be their personal representative, you can consider it an honor. Such honor often comes with responsibility. For example, if a Michigan estate owner asks you to serve as executor to the estate, you can feel honored that he or she thinks so highly of you, but also be prepared to carry out many duties, some of which may be more difficult than others.
In this post, you will learn basic information regarding executorship and what types of duties you’re expected to fulfill if you accept this position. In some cases, you might work alongside one or more people if the estate owner designated several people as co-executors. It’s imperative that you understand the implications of accepting executor duties and that you know where to seek legal support if necessary.
As executor of a Michigan estate, you are a fiduciary
The legal term “fiduciary” is synonymous with words like “keeper,” “warden,” and “agent.” When it comes time to administer the estate for which you are serving as executor, you will become a liaison between the beneficiaries and their inheritance. In fact, one of your first duties as executor after registering the death is to identify and contact all heirs and beneficiaries to inform them of their inheritance.
You must also determine whether any claims against the estate exist. Executors are also responsible for gathering a decedent’s assets and identifying all existing liabilities, which the estate will then pay for. In addition to these issues, there are often complex tax issues to resolve. If the decedent left specific instructions for a burial or other issues, you have an obligation to carry out his or her wishes.
You must keep beneficiaries up to date on estate proceedings
Another duty you must fulfill as executor of a Michigan estate is to keep everyone in line to receive an inheritance updated on the administration process. After you have registered the death, closed all the decedent’s accounts, paid taxes and other debts from the estate, and gathered all assets, your final duty will be to oversee the distribution of assets in accordance with the decedent’s wishes as stated in a last will and testament.
The Michigan estate administration process may take many months (even years) to complete. If an estate is large and complex, you may wish to enlist support from multiple resources, such as accountants, financial advisers or an estate law attorney. The latter is helpful to have on hand, especially if someone steps forward to contest the will.