Estate executors, known in Massachusetts as Personal Representatives, must manage different types of tasks. Understanding what some of those are can help you select someone with the right skill set and characteristics to carry out your wishes after you are gone. Here are some of the primary responsibilities of an estate executor in Massachusetts.
Your death does not immediately transfer any rights to an executor. Executors must first file paperwork with the courts to request their legal appointment to that role. This is part of the general probate process and can therefore take weeks or even months to complete. Once completed, only then will the executor have the power to manage your estate. Estate executors should be able to understand and navigate this court process, or hire an attorney to assist with it.
Estate executors must have good financial skills as they are responsible for managing a variety of financial matters related to your estate. This includes requesting a tax ID for the estate, establishing bank accounts, and transferring financial assets to that new account. Executors must be conscientious about keeping track of all assets and their movement,… plus prohibiting unauthorized access by others. Estate assets should be kept separate from an executor’s personal assets. Additionally, executors must administer distribution of funds to designated heirs based on your specific instructions. There can be a lot to keep track of, which is why good money management, organization skills, and attention to detail are ideal characteristics of an estate executor.
Sale of Assets
Estate executors must also take steps to sell and liquify assets in your estate. This may include real estate, motor vehicles, stocks and bonds, and other physical property. Again, estate executors should have the competency to oversee this process even if they are hiring industry professionals to assist with it.
Family Politics and Pressures
Interpersonal skills are a valuable asset for an estate executor. Undoubtedly, heirs will be anxious to receive inheritances. However, debtors are allowed up to one year to file claims against an estate. Executors must wait for that timeframe to lapse before disbursing funds. The ability to effectively communicate with heirs and resist pressures to defy set timeframes is critical, especially since executors can be held personally responsible for any shortage of funds.
Summary of Responsibilities of an Estate Executor in Massachusetts
When people think about an executor of an estate, they normally think about who is trustworthy enough for the role. That is certainly an important characteristic, but it is not the only one. Competency is equally important given the many responsibilities of an estate executor in Massachusetts. Choosing someone with the right combination of characteristics can give both you and your heirs peace of mind. Contact us for assistance with your Massachusetts Estate Plan and read additional tips in our estate planning blog.