In a perfect world, the testator of a last will and testament will always discuss with you his or her intention to appoint you as executor of his or her estate prior to actually doing so. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. As a result, it is not uncommon for someone to receive a telephone call informing her that she has been named as executor in a will without any prior knowledge of the nomination. If this has recently happened to you, you may be wondering what to do next.
The first thing to do is to decide if you are going to accept the nomination. Just because someone nominated you as executor of a will does not, in any way, obligate you to serve in the position. You can decline the nomination for any reason at all.
If, after considering the nomination, you decide to accept, then there are steps that should be taken immediately. Securing the estate assets to the best of your ability should take place right after deciding to accept the position of executor. Later one they will be inventoried and appraised, but for now, they need to be secured.
Filing a petition to probate the decedent’s estate must also be accomplished. An original copy of the decedent’s will showing your nomination as executor should be filed with the petition.
If the decedent had a probatable estate, seek the assistance of an attorney. The position of executor can be complicated, time-consuming and could give rise to personal liability for the executor if there are errors and omissions in their duties that have caused harm. The cost of an attorney to assist an executor in properly doing his or her duties is paid for out of the estate assets.