Negligence or failure to abide by these rules may result in legal consequences. For example, a federal case in 2012 held executors personally liable for the decedent’s unpaid tax debt. One of the many responsibilities of an executor is tax management. Executors can retain a tax attorney or accountant to manage important deadlines and proper paperwork to avoid filing mistakes and accruement of penalties. (Beneficiaries may also be affected by debt inheritance.)
Initially, an executor needs to:
- File the original Will with the clerk of superior court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of their death; along with an application for Letters of Testamentary and certain other documents necessary to probate the Will.
- Take an oath before the clerk or a notary public.
- In some cases, post a bond.
A Will must be filed with—and Letters of Testamentary issued by—the clerk of superior court before an executor’s legal authorities may officially be exercised. Creating an inventory of assets, canceling accounts, determining date-of-death values, notifying beneficiaries, and paying debts and expenses are all secondary tasks that are not possible until the executor follows the steps above.