We may have talked about the differences between an executor and a trustee. Though there may be similarities between the 2, they are in fact 2 different entities. They may do more or less the same thing, however not entirely.
An executor is someone who helps distribute a deceased’s properties and assets to their next of kin. Having said that, here are 10 main duties of a will executor:
What You Can Expect From a Will Executor
There are some common things that a will executor does. In this list, you can expect what a Malaysian executor’s job usually entails.
1. Notifying respective organizations of the person’s death
As soon as the person dies, the first thing the executor should do is to notify all relevant agencies. They will have to notify the Inland Revenue, all banks used by the deceased, internal affairs, and more. The executor will have to produce relevant documents such as the death certificate among many other supporting documents.
2. Determine and locate the original will
As soon as the respective organizations have been notified, the executor’s next step is to determine and locate where the original will is. It can be as easy to immediately locate and get their hands on it. Or it can take them a very long time before they can even “catch wind” where the original will is. If there was never a will, then there will be no executor in the first place.
3. Funeral arrangements
This is something that not a lot of people mention or talk about in regards to what an executor does. An executor actually do help arrange the funeral in the event where the deceased has no family. Even if the deceased has family members, sometimes the executor’s decision may override what the family members wish to do with the deceased’s corpse.
So yes, an executor will arrange for a funeral – they will find a funeral home to determine the details of the burial and the service. Sometimes the executor will plan out the funeral budget too.
4. Help apply for probate where needed
An executor can help the deceased’s family apply for probate where necessary. A probate means the probate court will made sure the dead person’s debts are paid accordingly. Anything left after the debts have been paid off, the assets and properties will be allocated to the respective correct beneficiaries. The term usually refers to the legal process that handles the assets and liabilities the deceased has left behind.
A probate is only applicable when the assets and properties are worth more than a certain amount in Malaysia. An experienced probate lawyer will be able to advise you on this one.
5. Settle any debts left behind by the deceased
If the executor can help with distributing any properties and assets according to the will, part of their jobs is to help settle any outstanding debts too. Usually, if there are still any outstanding debts left behind, then whatever money that is still in the deceased’s bank account will be used to pay off the debts. In some countries, there is such thing as inheritance taxes, which also has to be paid accordingly.
If there are not sufficient money in the bank accounts, then part of the properties will be sold off to cover the debts. In death, no one can escape debt. If there is remaining money left, then only will be distributed to the people named in the will.
6. Distribute any all assets and properties to the beneficiaries named in the will
For obvious reasons, if there is a will left behind, whatever assets and properties will be distributed accordingly to the beneficiaries. Sometimes the distribution of assets and properties may come across as unexpected or unjust. If the beneficiaries have any claims against the estate, then it will have to be dealt with accordingly in court.
7. Establishing and administering trusts for minors
Sometimes when a person passes away, they may have left behind minors and underage children. If these underage children or minor are not named in the will, then the executor will step in to act as a trustee. They will set up a trust in the form of relevant estate funds or assets. Those are usually in the form of establishing a bank account and similar financial accounts. If there are properties under the deceased’s name, then it will be established under the executor’s name as trustee. The executor has to administer the trusts in accordance with the will’s term.
8. Keeping tabs of the estate’s account
At times the executor will have to keep track of whatever money that is coming in and out of the deceased’s accounts. As an executor, they will have to keep the receipts and produce them when the court or beneficiaries requested it. This is generally the admin part of the executor’s job.
9. Property and assets maintenance
In between having acquired the original will, paying off the deceased’s debts, and looking for the beneficiaries, the executor has to maintain the properties and the financial accounts. Sometimes, locating the beneficiaries are pretty easy and fast. The beneficiaries can be located within a week to a couple of months. However, there will be times where it takes the executor several years before being able to locate the beneficiaries. In those years, the executor will need to maintain the properties until it is distributed.
10. Disposing of any “extra properties”
There will be times where executors will see how there are extra properties that are not distributed. If that’s the case, the executor is responsible to see how to handle it. Estates, properties, and accounts can vary in size and complexity, it means that the executor’s job may not be as easy as some people think it to be.
The executor’s job may go beyond this list of 10 responsibilities. Some executors may have to work and carry out tasks beyond these 10 duties, all varying in complexities of the case. If you ever need an executor, feel free to reach out to us.