What Is an Appointed Executor of a Will?

By Maggie Lourdes

A person names an executor, also called a personal representative, in her will. When the person dies, her will must be probated. Probate judges generally honor decedents' wishes by formally appointing executors identified in wills. If a person dies without a will, the court chooses someone to administer the decedent's estate. Relatives are usually considered first. However, if none are available, any party the court deems fit may serve.

Defining Appointment

A person must be formally appointed by a probate court to administer a decedent's estate. A party generally nominates a proposed executor in her will. A probate judge then formally appoints the nominee as executor by court order. If the nominated executor is unavailable to serve, the court chooses an alternate executor. Likewise, if a person dies intestate, meaning without a will, the probate judge chooses an intestate administrator. An intestate administrator generally has the same powers and duties as an executor named in a will.

Procedure for Appointments

A person nominated by a will for an executorship must file a petition with the probate court in the county where the decedent resided. The decedent's original will and a fee to the court must be submitted with the petition. Filing fees generally run in the $150 range. The court reviews the will to ensure its validity before granting a formal appointment. A person may also petition a court for appointment as an intestate administrator.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Executor's Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for who may serve as an estate's executor or administrator. Some states, like Washington, do not allow felons or corporations to administer estates. Some states prohibit or place special requirements on out-of-state executors.

Executor's Powers

An executor or intestate administrator possesses all legal power necessary to transfer the decedent's property to heirs. He must pay all of the estate's taxes and debts before making transfers. Estate administration requires tasks like closing bank accounts, signing real estate deeds, transferring vehicle titles and ensuring that family heirlooms reach the proper heirs. An executor or intestate administrator also has the power to hire experts such as attorneys, real estate agents and tax accountants to assist with the estate's affairs.

Executor's Duties

An appointed executor or intestate administrator has a duty to manage an estate in a fair and honest manner. She must keep heirs reasonably informed by providing them and the court with accountings of her actions. He must avoid self dealing and conflicts of interests with the estate. For example, if an executor's relatives want to buy estate property, the executor cannot use her position to get them a cheaper price. An executor also has a duty to close the estate within a reasonable time, which generally is one year.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What to Do When Someone Dies Without Leaving a Will?


Related articles

Can the Executor Give Personal Items Away Without an Heir's Approval?

An executor, also called a personal representative, is a person appointed in a will to administer a decedent's estate. An executor must give a decedent's personal items to his heirs according to the terms of the will. If no will exists, the decedent's estate is classified as intestate. Intestate estates have court-appointed executors who must follow the state's intestate succession statutes when dividing items among legal heirs.

Idaho Law Regarding Death & Probate

When an Idaho resident dies, his property may be subject to probate. Probate is the process of transfering ownership of a decedent's property to others. Probate courts appoint executors, also called personal representatives, who have the job of transferring a decedent's property to heirs. Not all estates require probate. Some estate planning tools, called will substitutes, bypass probate court. Trusts and joint tenancies are examples of will substitutes.

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. This person will have the responsibility of carrying out your wishes pursuant to the will. Because the executor has a number of responsibilities and can be held personally responsible if they are not properly carried out, carefully consider appointing someone who is trustworthy and capable of carrying out the somewhat complicated probate process.

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

Related articles

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

In Delaware, residents may draft wills directing the distribution of their property after death. A testator, or will ...

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 ...

What Are the Requirements for Settling an Inheritance?

The probate process is designed to determine the disposition of property left behind when someone dies. The local ...

Can an Executor of a Will Give a Power of Attorney to Someone From Prison?

The executor of an estate possesses only those powers granted to him under a will and by state law. A power of attorney ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED