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How to handle the responsibility of a succession representative

As a succession representative, your estate holder has placed you in a position of great trust and responsibility. The role of a succession representative is not an easy one, and the duties of the role can easily sideline you.

A succession representative, or an executor, is primarily responsible for the probate and distribution of all the assets of an estate. Carrying out this responsibility can be a lot, especially immediately following the death of a family member of close friend. This article is meant to give you an overview of the typical duties of the role to help you be better prepared. However, if you have concerns, reach out to an estate attorney to help you navigate your responsibilities, as you assume quite a lot of fiduciary responsibility by taking on the role.

Assume Responsibility

Though the estate holder has named you the succession representative, you always have the option to turn the responsibility down. If you wish to carry out the duties, you will need to confirm your willingness in court. Confirming your willingness to take the role makes you liable for any losses that might happen while the estate is under your care.

Notify officials, creditors and inheritors

When the estate owner passes away, you must notify all of those who need to be made aware of the death. This may include health and safety officials as well as all known creditors and inheritors. You must also file for succession in the county the estate holder resided in. This will officially kick off the succession process.

Document assets and deal with claims

As the administer of the estate, you will need to keep inventory of all its assets. Hopefully, the deceased has made this part easy by staying organized with their estate. During the creditor’s claim period, you will be responsible for paying legitimate claims off with the assets of the estate and filing for final tax returns.

This process may include opening an estate bank account and transferring the appropriate funds to and from this account.

Oversee succession

Once the claims period has passed, you will then oversee the process of transferring the estate to the heirs in accordance to the estate plan. After this step, you will close any accounts opened on behalf of the estate and be dismissed from your duties.

Complications

If the estate holder has kept their estate plan well updated, the process will generally go smoother. However, disputes over the estate, ambiguities over the will and other issues can often disrupt the process. If you are named the succession representative of the will, it may benefit you to ask the estate holder to keep his plan updated and to work with an estate lawyer to deal with any unsuspected complications.

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