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What an executor does in an estate plan

People in North Dakota who are named as executors under a will have a number of duties they must carry out after the testator dies, but they can make the job easier by doing a few things while the individual is still alive. They should get a copy of the will and note whether there are any unusual aspects to it. They should also find out where important documents can be found.

When the person dies, up to a dozen death certificates should be ordered so that various entities can be informed, such as banks, creditors and life insurance companies. Executors are also responsible for notifying beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration and any others who need to be informed of the individual’s death. The will has to be filed in probate court. The executor may need to open a bank account in the name of the estate and get a tax identification number. Another responsibility is maintaining any property until it is distributed to beneficiaries.

Executors must prepare a list of assets, including their value, for the court. Taxes, fees and any other payments must be made before assets are distributed to beneficiaries. After a final accounting, executors can close the estate. Throughout this process, they can work with an attorney if desired and should keep careful financial records.

Individuals who are creating an estate plan might also want to work with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help ensure that the documents are prepared correctly and that individuals do not overlook potential solutions that they might be unaware of if they used a do-it-yourself plan. An attorney might also help prepare other important estate planning documents, such as powers of attorney for finances and health care. These ensure that people are available to step in to make financial and medical decisions if a person is incapacitated.