In many cases, you will know if someone has nominated you as executor in their Last Will and Testament because they will have discussed the appointment with you. Sometimes, however, a person fails to discuss their plans ahead of time, resulting in a surprise telephone call letting you know that you are appointed as the an executor. If this happens, what do you do?
First, don’t panic. A nomination is just that -- a nomination. You are under no legal obligation to accept the position. If you do not feel that you can serve as the executor, or do not want to serve, you may decline the nomination.
If you decide to accept the nomination, there are several basic things that will need to happen afterwards. Unless someone else has already done so, you need to petition the appropriate court to probate the decedent’s estate.
Next, you should marshall and safeguard the estate assets to the best of your ability. Eventually you will also need to thoroughly inventory and value the estate assets.
Finally, if you have not already done so, you should retain professional help. Depending on the size of the estate, you may need the assistance of an attorney as well as other professionals in order to properly administer the estate. Typically, reasonable fees associated with professional services you use in order to probate the estate are paid for out of the estate assets . If you find yourself in ths situation, consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible to learn of all your fiduciary obligations.