You’ve Been Named Executor of an Estate — Now What?


Were you recently named the executor of an estate by a loved one? If so, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the process and unsure of where to begin. Serving as an executor can be a complicated and time-consuming task with many responsibilities, especially if you are unfamiliar with Louisiana state law or estate planning in general. The Law Office of Edward J. McCloskey is here to help.

As experienced Louisiana estate planning attorneys, we have compiled some of the most important information you need to know as an executor. Read on to learn more about your duties.

Responsibilities of an Executor

In the State of Louisiana, an executor is a person who carries out the instructions in a will and oversees distribution of the deceased person’s total owned property, called the ‘estate.’ The executor acts as the deceased’s personal representative for handling all aspects of settling the estate. Some of the executor’s responsibilities include:

  • Paying bills, such as funeral expenses, medical bills, and other debts of the deceased
  • Gathering and organizing assets of the estate (all property and belongings)
  • Filing state and federal taxes
  • Paying any federal or state inheritance taxes that apply
  • Distributing assets according to the will
  • Appearing in court, if necessary

There are different kinds of individual property, or assets, and each may need to be handled in different ways.  As an executor, you can expect to handle the following different assets:

  • Real estate
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Bank and savings account
  • Insurance policies
  • Cars, boats, or other vehicles

What Must the Executor Do After Death?

Aside from mentioned responsibilities of the executor, you will also need to take care of some legal matters soon after the death occurs. Here’s a list of some of the most important tasks to consider:

  • Obtain a death certificate.
  • Notify banks, creditors, and other institutions of the decedent’s death.
  • Make funeral and burial arrangements.
  • File the will in probate court.
  • Communicate as necessary with legatees (the person or people receiving ‘a legacy,’ or personal property, from a will).
  • Set up an estate bank account.
  • File a tax return.

These tasks might feel overwhelming because of how complicated the legal system and its paperwork are. That is why it is important to have an experienced estate planning attorney like Edward J. McCloskey on your side to ensure the steps you take comply with Louisiana state laws.

When Is a Succession Applicable?

In the State of Louisiana, succession is a process supervised by the courts to distribute the assets of an estate whether or not there is a will. In general, if the estate is worth more than $125,000, a succession must be opened and the will has to be admitted to probate. If there is no valid will, the estate will be distributed according to Louisiana’s intestacy laws.

When Is Probate Applicable?

When we talk about the subject of probate, we mean the legal process of validating or “proving” that a will is authentic and legally binding. In Louisiana, the Parish Court where the deceased person lived oversees these proceedings.

What If the Individual Has Named a Beneficiary?

If the deceased person named a beneficiary on assets like life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, certificates of deposit, or other financial accounts, these assets will not go into the estate. Instead, they are distributed directly to that beneficiary.

Address Taxes & Sale of Property After Death

As executor, you will also need to consider the debt and tax implications of the estate. Depending on the value of the assets, federal and state taxes may be owed.

Taxes and Sale of Properties After Death

When an individual dies, those who inherit the deceased person’s assets don’t owe inheritance taxes. But the executor is responsible for filing income taxes for the deceased person for the years before and after his or her death.

If this leaves you confused and overwhelmed, it is best to consult an estate planning attorney like Edward J. McCloskey to help you with this.

The Bottom Line

Being an executor can be a difficult and complex task. It is important to understand the legal obligations that you must adhere to. Failing to do so can cause serious issues down the line. That is why you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney like Edward J. McCloskey who can provide guidance and assistance throughout this process.

By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are respected and their estate is distributed properly.