Executor Responsibilities

Executors have many important responsibilities when it comes to administering a testator’s estate. For this reason, anyone who is considering creating or altering a will should take great care when assigning someone to be an executor. Choosing an irresponsible person to be the executor of your estate can have serious consequences, so if you are concerned about your choice of executor, it is critical to speak with an experienced contested estates attorney who can help ensure that your will is not contested at a later date as a result of an executor’s inexperience.

What are an Executor’s Duties?

When a person passes away, but has a will in place, the executor named in that document is responsible for wrapping up the decedent’s affairs. In the event that an executor was not named, however, a probate court appoints an administrator to act on the decedent’s behalf in distributing his or her estate. Regardless of whether an executor was court-appointed or designated in a will, the role comes with specific responsibilities, including:

  • Filing a copy of the will with the appropriate court;
  • Locating assets, identifying debts, and generally taking control of the decedent’s assets;
  • Notifying beneficiaries and creditors of the decedent’s death, including credit card companies, banks, and government agencies;
  • Providing the probate court with an inventory of the decedent’s assets and debts;
  • Filing all federal and state tax returns, as well as estate taxes and income taxes on behalf of the decedent;
  • Paying all of the estate’s debts;
  • Paying any of the decedent’s expenses, such as mortgage payments and utility bills;
  • Maintaining the decedent’s property until it can be distributed or sold, which includes protecting personal property as well as the decedent’s residence and other real properties;
  • Distributing the testator’s property to the correct beneficiaries, either in accordance with the terms of a will or the rules of intestacy;
  • If necessary, disposing of assets through sale; and
  • Appearing in court on behalf of the estate.

To fulfill these duties, executors must act fairly and impartially when completing estate-related responsibilities. Often, executors who have been designated in a will are family members of the decedent and so may face pressure from other relatives. For this reason, it is especially important for executors to obtain legal advice from a skilled contested estates attorney who can ensure that they comply with all of their legal duties and that a will won’t be contested as a result of their actions.

Contact us Today to Speak With an Experienced Contested Estates Attorney

Executors and administrators must fulfill a wide range of important and complex legal duties. This can be especially difficult in situations that involve large estates or complex relationships. Having the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney can be invaluable to ensuring that an executor fulfills all of his or her duties effectively and in accordance with state law, so if you were named an executor in someone’s will, please contact the legal team at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law and we’ll help you set up an initial consultation with a dedicated contested estates attorney.

Updated as of July 2019
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