An executor of a will is an individual who is appointed to manage the administration of the estate of a deceased individual. The will usually mentions the name of the executor but in case it is not mentioned in the will, an executor is appointed by the court.
Being an executor is challenging as the individual is responsible for winding up the earthly affairs of a deceased person. It is the fiduciary duty of the executor to ensure that the assets of a deceased person’s estate are transferred to the beneficiaries as per the wishes of the deceased. An executor does not need to be a financial or legal expert but he or she needs to be impartial, diligent and honest.
Responsibilities of an Executor
The first step for an executor is to find all the assets of the deceased person and manage them until the assets are properly distributed to the intended beneficiaries. It may involve selling securities or real estate or other such things.
It is also the responsibility of the executor to figure out whether probate proceedings are needed. While an executor is not required to hire an attorney, it is recommended to hire the services of an attorney in order to help with the process. It is the fiduciary responsibility of an executor to take care of the estate assets including payment of taxes, debts and other such things.
An executor is required to notify all the beneficiaries of the will in case of a will as well as potential beneficiaries such as siblings, parents or children even if they are not named in the will. The executor should also place an advertisement in a newspaper to inform potential creditors.
The executive will need to determine the creditors and pay all the valid claims made by such creditors from the funds of the estate. It is important to mention here that there is no personal liability for the executor for the deceased’s debts. The funeral expenses are usually paid first by the estate.
The executor also needs to make sure all the taxes as well as tax forms are filed on time including the income taxes and estate taxes. Once all the creditors have been paid, the executor needs to make sure that all the beneficiaries are paid as per the will or as per the law in case there is no will.
It is also the duty of the executor to keep accurate records of everything they do. The beneficiaries need to review the final accounting before distribution of the estate assets. The estate is closed by the court after the approval of final accounting by the court and beneficiaries. Once the final report is filed with the court, the estate is closed and the executor’s work is complete.
The executive is also entitled to compensation as estate administration involves a lot of work but the compensation needs to be approved by the court.