When you become the executor of someone’s Michigan estate, you may feel overwhelmed. Probate often can present challenges for which you are unprepared.

The American Bar Association has provided a list of common questions posed by executors and the answers to them. Hopefully this information will help you, too.

1. What duties must I perform?

While each estate proceeds through probate differently depending on its size and complexity, you can expect to perform the following duties:

  • Apply for Letters Testamentary from the court
  • Obtain several certified copies of the decedent’s death certificate
  • Gather together the decedent’s assets, secure them and inventory them
  • Notify the decedent’s creditors of his or her death and the opening of his or her probate estate
  • Pay the decedent’s outstanding bills and taxes
  • Distribute the remaining estate assets in accordance with the decedent’s will

2. Do I act as a fiduciary?

Yes. You must always act in and for the best interests of the estate and its heirs and beneficiaries when performing your various duties.

3. Do I manage the estate’s assets?

Yes. One of your primary duties as executor is to manage the estate’s assets throughout the probate process.

4. At what point to I distribute the estate’s assets?

Depending on the provisions of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, you may distribute the estate’s assets during the probate process, and certainly at the end thereof.

5. How do I close the estate?

Once you have paid the decedent’s bills, taxes and probate expenses and prepared and filed a final estate accounting, you will request permission from the court to close the estate.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.