Duties for an Executor for a Will Estate

By Barbara Diggs

The executor of a will is responsible for settling all matters relating to an estate after the testator's death. Because this job is highly time-consuming and carries great responsibility, select your executor with care. Discuss the role with your choice before officially naming him in your will, and make sure that he feels qualified to handle the task. You may also want to name an additional executor in your will in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to perform his duties.

The executor of a will is responsible for settling all matters relating to an estate after the testator's death. Because this job is highly time-consuming and carries great responsibility, select your executor with care. Discuss the role with your choice before officially naming him in your will, and make sure that he feels qualified to handle the task. You may also want to name an additional executor in your will in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to perform his duties.

Fiduciary Duty

The highest duty of an executor is a fiduciary one. This means that executor has a legal and ethical responsibility to act with honesty, impartiality and fairness with respect to the estate. An executor can in no way take advantage of her position, and must make decisions that reflect judgment as good as any “prudent individual.” An executor can be held personally liable for any breach of this duty.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Managing Financial Affairs

The executor must settle all financial matters relating to the estate. This includes determining creditors, paying bills and taxes, filing the final tax return, managing assets and securities portfolios, and making an inventory of the estate’s assets and liabilities. The deceased’s debts and expenses are paid for with the funds of the estate, which are drawn on a bank account that the executor must open in the name of the estate. The executor is usually entitled to invest, liquidate or sell assets to cover debts and expenses, if necessary. The executor may hire an accountant to aid him in settling these affairs.

Settling Adminstrative Matters

The executor is responsible for all administrative tasks that arises upon the death of an individual. For example, the executor must notify the appropriate financial and governmental institutions of the death, cancel the decedent’s credit cards, club memberships and subscriptions, and arrange for probate of the will.

Handling Legal Matters

The executor becomes responsible for any legal actions for or against the estate, and may initiate an action on the behalf of the estate, if necessary. The executor has the power to hire an attorney on the estate’s behalf -- and expense -- in such matters.

Executing the Instructions in the Will

The executor is responsible for carrying out the final instructions described in the will. The executor must distribute the assets to the beneficiaries and attempt to locate any beneficiaries that cannot be readily found. She must also deliver any personal property items bequeathed and obtain receipts. Ultimately, the executor has to prepare and present a full accounting of the estate’s administration and present it to the beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Does the Executor Have Authority Over the Will?

References

Related articles

What Are the Duties of an Executor of a Will in Missouri?

The law refers to a person who drafts a will as a testator. When a testator drafts a will, he typically designates a person as an executor, or personal representative. The Missouri Probate Code states what duties and powers an executor of a will has in administering a Missouri estate. The executor’s main duty is to administer the will’s instructions regarding the distribution of the testator's estate assets and resolve all claims against the estate.

What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal representative, the executor is typically named in a will. A judge chooses and appoints an estate administrator if a decedent dies intestate, or without a will, or does not name an executor in his will. An estate administrator basically has duties and powers equivalent to an executor. Each state has individual laws regarding estates and executorships.

Responsibilities of an Estate Executor in California

Probate is a court process that results in the distribution of the property of the deceased, known as the decedent, to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. The decedent’s assets are collectively referred to as the estate. To handle the decedent’s assets and manage the distribution of the estate, the court appoints an executor, who is typically named in the decedent's will. In some states, including California, the executor is known as the personal representative. If there is no will, the court appoints an estate administrator to perform these duties. The executor is charged with a number of responsibilities with respect to the estate. Although the court supervises the executor, an executor who fails to perform these responsibilities reasonably can be sued for mismanagement.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Who Enforces the Execution of a Will?

In drafting your will, you may appoint a person to serve as your executor, also known as a personal representative. ...

An Executor's Duties to a Beneficiary

Executors are individuals who are appointed through a will to ensure the wishes of the testator, person who created the ...

Executor Duties & Rights in Handling a Will

The executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions left in a will. The executor may be named in ...

How to Remove an Executor or Trustee for California Probate

If an executor or trustee fails to perform her various duties, California law allows an interested party to petition ...

Browse by category