The role of executor is an honor and a heavy responsibility. As an executor, you will be responsible for handling all the deceased’s remaining financial concerns. It is understandable that you are stressed and concerned about how to do this faithfully and accurately.
How is an executor nominated in Indiana?
In Indiana, only a probate court may appoint an executor of an estate. This court must be in the county where the person lived. At a court hearing, you must present the following documents:
- Last Will and Testament
- Petition for Probate
These documents must state that you are the intended executor of the estate. If the person died without a will, someone must nominate themselves for the position. If no one does this, the court will nominate someone (usually a spouse, a parent or an adult child) until someone accepts the role.
After the executor is nominated and approved, the court will send you home with Letters of Probate. These letters give you the legal authority to handle the person’s finances.
What are an executor’s duties?
If the estate needs to be handled in court, an executor must assemble an inventory of all debts and assets which the court will sue to determine what is subject to probate. If the estate is not under court supervision, this inventory is irrelevant.
An executor must keep careful record of expenses and provide transparency in their duties. Beneficiaries can challenge an executor’s performance if you fail in your duties or they suspect you are siphoning money from the estate. Unethical behavior could result in jail time.
Typical duties of an executor include:
- Hiring an appraiser for high-value assets (homes, land/property, equine assets, etc.)
- Notifying beneficiaries of the person’s death and their inheritance
- Publish creditor notice in local newspapers
- Locating creditors
- Paying medical bills
- Paying funerary expenses
- Paying their final taxes
It will also be your duty to control the spread of information. For tax and creditor purposes, a legal advisor may recommend following a specific timeline for paying off debt and distributing expenses. Publishing this information at will might rob the estate of those legal advantages.
If you are concerned about performing these duties or find you need guidance in this area, you have legal options and advice to explore. In your grief, it is important to be realistic about what you do and do not have the capacity to handle.