Losing someone you love is difficult, especially if you were close with that person. The situation can become even more complicated if the deceased party asked you to serve as the executor of their estate or the trustee for their trust.
That means that not only do you have to deal with grief, but you also have to handle the complex financial and legal responsibilities of administering an estate. The first step toward fulfilling your obligations to your deceased loved one is familiarizing yourself with your responsibilities as the trustee or executor .
It is your job to tie up loose ends after someone dies
An executor helps address all outstanding issues in someone’s legal and financial life after their physical life is over. You will handle the financial and legal details related to their passing and the liquidation of their assets.
Typically, you will have some financial and legal obligations to fulfill prior to disbursing the assets from the estate. Often, these responsibilities include:
- paying bills
- paying taxes
- closing accounts
- assessing liabilities and debts
- locating assets
- locating beneficiaries and heirs
- serving notice
- handling any probate proceedings
Obviously, there are many complicated steps involved in estate administration. As soon as you assume your mantle of authority, you should review the last will. Whether you go over it with your own attorney or the attorney who drafted it, it’s important to understand the request and obligations outlined in the last will or estate plan. From there, you will want to secure all important financial documentation related to the estate, ranging from outstanding bills to text documents.
You must pay debts before you disperse anything to other people
No matter the emotional significance of a valuable asset, you do not have the right to disperse anything from the estate until all outstanding debts and obligations of the deceased get paid in full. That is why reviewing financial documentation is critical.
Once you understand what obligations the testator left to you, you can quickly handle them and move on to locating and organizing assets for heirs and beneficiaries. Anytime you disburse funds, whether it is to a child of the deceased or a creditor, make sure that you have accurate records and receipts. If someone chooses to challenge your role in the future, that documentation can prove that you performed your fiduciary duty with care and diligence.
If you are uncertain about the right steps to take, it is best to refer to the advice of an experienced estate administration attorney in Jamaica. In some cases, you could be held legally or financially responsible for mistakes you make in good faith while dealing with an estate. The best way to avoid any such liability is to carefully comply with the terms of the will and with the law.