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

By Joseph Scrofano

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.

Asset Management

The executor owes a fiduciary duty to the estate, which means she must act at all times make decisions in the best interest of the estate. As part of that duty, the executor may manage the assets while all the estate’s affairs are resolved. This may include managing properties the will instructed not to liquidate, or sell, which could entail making ordinary repairs and maintenance to property or taking out insurance policies in the estate’s name to protect the assets. In addition, the executor may make prudent investments with liquid assets to help the estate maximize its value during the proceedings, manage the decedent’s business affairs and collect any debts owed to the decedent. If the estate holds stock, the executor may be called upon to vote on behalf of the estate where appropriate. The executor has a duty to prosecute any outstanding claims -- like lawsuits -- the decedent had. Conversely, the executor also must defend any pending claims against the decedent.

Debt Satisfaction

The executor is responsible for using the estate’s assets to satisfy all of the estate’s outstanding debts. This could include performing or satisfying any outstanding contracts on behalf of the decedent. The executor may have to sell any encumbered assets to satisfy liens and avoid foreclosure or repossession. Because the executor owes a fiduciary duty, she may attempt to negotiate a compromise to satisfy debts with the least cost to the estate. The executor must also pay any and all local, state and federal taxes that the estate owes with proceeds from the estate. The executor may hire any professionals -- attorneys, financial advisers or accountants -- deemed necessary to comply with her duties.

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Asset Distribution

The executor must distribute the estate’s assets pursuant to the will’s instructions and with the probate court’s supervision. When the probate proceeding begins, the court orders all known potential claimants that they must make a claim against the estate before the expiration of a six-month period. The executor has the authority to evaluate the claims consistent with the will and distribute assets to valid claim. This process may involve the decedent’s heirs as well as the decedent’s creditors.

Other Duties

Prior to settling any claims, the executor must inventory the estate and have an appraisal of the estate’s value done. Then he must file the inventory and appraisal with the court. The executor must also keep records for all of the estate’s transactions and provide an accounting to the court.

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



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In Kentucky, the executor is the person named in a will to manage the estate of a deceased person, known as the decedent. If there is no will or no executor is named, an administrator manages the estate. The executor's or administrator's duties include paying the estate's remaining debts and distributing its assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. An executor's duties begin with locating the will.

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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.

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When a person dies without a will, the state probate court will appoint an individual to oversee the transfer of his property to any living heirs. This person is referred to as the administrator; it is his job to value all of the deceased person's assets and make sure all outstanding debts and taxes are paid before distributing any property.

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