What Does the Executor of a Will Do?

The executor is the designated representative who is supposed to ensure that the estate is properly settled and that the assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.

Some of the items on the to-do list for an executor might include making sure the death certificate is properly filed with all the right agencies, making funeral or other arrangements, having assets appraised.

In addition, executor has to making sure all payments continue being made until the estate is settled, and making the arrangements to ensure that all the beneficiaries get the assets they’re entitled to.

Being an executor is no small feat. If someone you love asks you to be the executor, be sure to consider whether you are capable and willing to do so.

Once you accept this obligation, you will have some difficult tasks to perform, but you will also have the assurance that your loved one trusted you in death as well as in life.

If you take on the role of an executor, you want to make sure that you:

Immediately secure all assets of the deceased

This includes all bank accounts, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds, insurance papers, and any other monetary assets.

You also have to secure the deceased’s residence and ensure that nothing is taken from the house. Family members often wish they had something that belonged to the deceased as a souvenir. Cars, boats, motorcycles and other vehicles registered on behalf of the deceased are part of the estate; you must ensure that they are not disturbed until they are sold.

Determine the legal heirs

This includes the spouse and children named in the will, as well as brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. This is usually a very simple issue, but problems can arise when a child born out of wedlock comes forward to claim an equitable portion of his or her legacy. As the executor of your will, you and your lawyer would make sure that the child’s claim is legitimate.

Pay all outstanding debts

With the help of a selected or family attorney and the probate court, including final expenses such as hospital care and funeral expenses. The estate tax is complicated, but your attorney will take care of securing an estate tax release for you. The estate cannot be settled until you have the estate tax release.

You need to arrange the payment of the deceased’s credit cards, car loans, and anything that has an outstanding debt. At the final court hearing, the judge will order payment of a reasonable executor’s and attorney’s fee as well as all court costs related to the probate of the estate. The estate is NOT responsible for paying the beneficiaries’ inheritance taxes; they must pay this themselves.