Many people assume they will be named as the executor of a parent’s will, but that may not always happen. Wise adults do not simply identify a person to be a will executor based on familial relations. The job of an executor should be thought of as just that – a job – instead of a ceremonious title bestowed on someone. Understanding what an executor’s responsibilities are is important when determining who to name in this role tasked with significant financial and other matters.

Kiplinger indicates that one of the first things an executor should do is to file for an official death certificate. They should also order multiple copies of this document as they will need to provide it to many other entities in the process of settling the person’s estate. Next, they should find how to gain access to the person’s home. In some situations, this may require the involvement of local law enforcement as an escort.

Smart Asset explains that the will of the person who died should be filed with the probate court in the appropriate county to start the probate process. The executor will then turn their attention to identifying all outstanding debts to be paid and all assets remaining in the estate. All financial liabilities must be addressed before any assets may be transferred to heirs.

Income tax returns must be filed by the executor for the last year in which the decedent lived. Management of all bank, investment or other accounts as well as income from sources like disability insurance, workers’ compensation, Social Security, or more must be identified and addressed.