Executor of Will Responsibilities

By Laura Myers

An executor is someone who has been named in a will to administer the testator’s estate after he has died. The executor has a wide array of responsibilities to the decedent, the beneficiaries, the government and the court. The rules for executors vary from state to state, so it is important to verify the specific requirements for each jurisdiction.

Responsibilities to Testator

The responsibility of the executor to the testator is to carry out his wishes as they were expressed in the will. This normally includes overseeing the funeral and disposal of the body, taking care of assets, preparing an inventory, paying taxes and debts, and distributing property to beneficiaries. It may also involve making sure that children are properly connected with their appointed guardian. After the entire process is complete, they are also responsible for closing the estate.

Responsibilities to Beneficiaries

Executors have serious responsibilities to the beneficiaries, as well. For one thing, they must be located and kept informed of the status of the will. It may be required of the executor to set up and administer a trust on behalf of certain beneficiaries, depending on their ages and the terms of the will. In addition, they are responsible for protecting the estate. One way to easily cause financial damage is to not pay taxes and bills on time, and then be required to pay penalties.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Responsibilities to Government

An executor’s main responsibility to government is to pay the required taxes. According to the American Bar Association, there are usually two kinds of tax returns that you must file. The first is a personal return on behalf of the decedent, and the second is for the estate. In order to file a tax return for the estate, the executor must first apply for a new tax identification number. The American Bar Association adds that sometimes the estate or trust has to pay estimated taxes each quarter.

Responsibilities to Probate Court

An executor's main responsibility to the court is to comply with state and federal laws and regulations. In order to do this, they are expected to find out what those laws and rules are. Generally, an executor will be required to publish an advertisement in a local newspaper concerning the testator’s outstanding debts, file the will, notify beneficiaries and others who may be entitled to be beneficiaries, petition the court for letters testamentary and file other documents as necessary.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Duties of a Will Executor


Related articles

What Does it Mean to Be the Executor to a Will?

The executor to a will is the person chosen by the probate judge to act as the administrator of a deceased person’s estate during the probate process. The executor is often someone who was nominated for this role in the will, but the judge makes the ultimate decision as to who will serve in this capacity. In addition to the personal obligations an executor might feel toward the deceased, the executor has legal responsibilities to the estate, its creditors and beneficiaries.

What Happens When an Executor of a Will Doesn't Carry Out What the Will Asks For?

A last will and testament represents the final wishes of a deceased person, and laws are in place to ensure that the instructions set out in the will are actually carried out. While these laws vary by state, you will find that every state regulates how a will is administered and who is responsible for it.

What Happens When a Revocable Trust Ceases?

Revocable trusts are often used as estate planning tools. Unlike wills, the administration of trusts after death can usually be done without going to probate court. Once the creditors and taxes are paid, any remaining trust assets are distributed according to the trust creator's instructions. However, state laws vary as to what is required to wind up a revocable trust, which can affect how long the process will take.

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. ...

Legal Process of Benefactors in a Will

When you create a will, you leave directions for your loved ones to follow when distributing your estate. Your ...

Duties of the Executor of a Will in Texas

Wills often nominate an executor to administer the deceased’s estate after he dies. Once officially appointed by a ...

The Duties of a Last Will or Trust Executor

An executor of a Last Will and Trust is an individual who is named in a will by the deceased to administer his estate ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED