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What is an executor responsible for?

If you know anything about estate planning, you have probably heard the term “executor” before. And you may even know that an executor is in charge of handling a person’s estate according to their last will and testament.

But you probably aren’t aware of the exact duties that the executor is responsible for, so we will outline them for you today. Generally speaking, an executor is charged with making sure that a person’s last wishes are honored and their debts are paid off. 

Typically, an executor is responsible for the following duties:

  1. Locating the deceased person’s assets and keeping them safe until they can be distributed according to the will.
  2. Deciding if the deceased person’s will needs to be probated in court (based on state law and the value of the estate.)
  3. Locating the people who were named in the will to receive an inheritance, and making sure those people get what they are entitled to.
  4. Filing the will with the correct probate court, which usually required even if the will does not need to be probated.
  5. Wrapping up the affairs of the deceased person such as cancelling credit cards, altering the Social Security Administration and notifying banks.
  6. Creating a bank account for the estate’s funds since they normally should not be co-mingled with the executor’s assets.
  7. Continuing to make necessary payments on behalf of the estate such as mortgage payments and insurance dues.
  8. Paying off all debts owed by the deceased person, which usually needs to be done before anyone can receive an inheritance.
  9. Paying off final income taxes for the last year the deceased person was alive.
  10. Making sure that any remaining property included in the estate but left out of the will passes according to the state intestacy laws.

As you can see, an executor has many important tasks. An executor is not allowed to profit from the sale of assets that were part of the estate, but typically is entitled to a reasonable fee for administering the estate based on how complex the job was.

Source:, “What Does an Executor Do?” accessed Nov. 25, 2014

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