Few people are prepared to be an executor of a person's estate after the deceased has passed away.
If you have been named an executor of an estate, the role comes with several obligations and responsibilities. After an individual's death, property, assets, bills, and taxes need to be addressed. An executor acts in a fiduciary capacity to settle the estate.
There are some differences between states, but there are more rules shared in common. If the deceased lived in Illinois or owned property in Illinois, be sure to follow the specific rules that apply.
Every state has regulations on who may serve as the executor of an estate when it goes through the probate process. An executor must be of sound mind (not judged incapacitated by a court), a legal resident of the United States who is at least 18 years old. Illinois, like most states, prohibits anyone who has had a felony conviction from serving as an estate's executor.
Illinois law also prohibits anyone who is failing to provide for their family by engaging in "debauchery," gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, or "being idle," among other rules.
Plus, if you live outside Illinois, the court could require a nonresident executor to post bond.
In Illinois, the law allows "reasonable compensation" at an hourly rate. The rate is not based on a set percentage of the estate's assets.
File The Will and Probate
One of the first responsibilities for an executor is to file the will with the local county court clerk's office - Illinois County Clerk Offices (county-clerk.net).
You should file the original 'Last Will and Testament' with the county where the deceased resided, but if they didn't live in Illinois, you should file the will with the county where they hold property.
The executor must file a petition to probate the will within 30 days; otherwise, the court could deny your right to serve as executor. If the deceased's estate has a value of under $100,000, the court may decide that probate isn't necessary.
Notify the Heirs
Once they've filed the will, the executor must notify any heirs or legatees of the probate process. The executor must also inform the heirs of any assets they are to inherit, as well as the date of the reading of the will. This notification must also include a notice of their right to challenge the will.
If there are any unknown creditors, the executor must file a "claims publication" in a local newspaper. Then, any creditors have six months from the publication to make any claims against the estate.
Ensure the Will Is Followed
An executor is an advocate for the deceased, acting on their behalf, so the executor must oversee the follow-through of the will. This includes distributing any specific items they've left to heirs and managing the collection and dispersal of any liquid assets.
If anyone has filed a claim against the will, it becomes the executor's responsibility to contest it in court. Experts suggest that the executor get a probate lawyer for any legal complications that might transpire.
Manage the Assets and Estate
An executor's job isn't over until they've settled all the estate's assets and debts. It can take months or even years. The executor must first collect all the assets of the estate for liquidation.
Planning an estate sale will sell off anything of value, and anything that doesn't sell or that the heirs don't want can be discarded. Some items might be donated to charity or just destroyed if it lacks any value.
Once all the assets are liquid, they should go into an estate bank account. The executor can then use that estate bank account to pay any bills that the estate owns, and it will also serve as the medium by which the heirs will receive their inheritance.
According to federal law, states must recover long-term care costs if the deceased received long-term care services paid by Medicaid. Illinois can recover the money paid by the Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD) program. However, the state cannot recover assets when the recipient has a surviving spouse, a child under age 21, or a blind or disabled child of any age.
If the deceased had a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, any remaining benefits or death benefits would be paid to the estate before closing the estate. The same for any life insurance proceeds. Generally, the executor will file copies of the death certificate to insurance companies in order to close out policies and receive any benefits from the policy.
The executor will close the estate by filing a final accounting with the court showing how the estate assets were distributed during the process.
Executors of an estate are often amazed by the complexity of life. Usually, an executor is unaware of how long-term health care gets paid for and how it can drain the value of an estate.
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