What are the Responsibilities and Obligations of an Executor?

When many people think about the contents of a will, they imagine gifts and inheritances of assets and property left to loved ones. While this is an important aspect of any estate plan, it is also critical for testators to remember that they should strongly consider naming an executor in their will as well.

Executors fulfill a number of different duties after a testator passes away, including winding down that person’s affairs, appraising assets, and distributing property to named beneficiaries. For help drafting your own will and naming someone that you trust to administer your estate in the event of your death, please contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys today.

Executor Responsibilities

Whether a person was named as an executor by a testator or was assigned by a probate court because a decedent died intestate or failed to name an administrator, his or her responsibilities will be the same. These duties include:

  • Filing the will with the local probate court;
  • Taking charge of the decedent’s finances, which includes locating assets and identifying debts;
  • Ensuring that assets are appraised or valued if necessary;
  • Notifying creditors, banks, and other account holders of the decedent’s death;
  • Providing the court with an inventory of the decedent’s assets;
  • Paying the estate’s outstanding debts;
  • Maintaining the decedent’s property until it is disposed of;
  • Filing federal, state, and estate tax returns on the decedent’s behalf;
  • Disposing of the decedent’s assets via distribution to the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries, or through sale;
  • Appearing in court on behalf of the estate when necessary;
  • Presenting an accounting of the estate’s assets and how they were distributed; and
  • Closing the estate.

Finally, executors are required to defend the validity of the estate they are administering in the event that one of the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries files a will contest. In Illinois, heirs and beneficiaries only have two months from the date that the will is filed with the probate court, in which they can file a petition challenging it, so once this deadline has passed, executors can limit their focus to their other duties.

Because they are required to fulfill such important duties, it is critical for testators to take great care when choosing someone to administer their will. Choosing someone who is irresponsible, makes poor financial decisions, or is unable to abide by deadlines could end up costing a beneficiary an asset, create trouble with the IRS, or lead to a will contest. For help ensuring that your own executor is willing and able to administer your will, please contact our legal team today.

Contact an Experienced Northbrook Estate Planning Attorney

For help deciding who will administer your own estate after your death, please contact call 847-325-5559 and a member of our legal team will help you schedule an initial case evaluation with one of the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law today. You can also reach us by completing and submitting one of our brief online contact forms.

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