What are the Responsibilities of an Executor?

It is natural for people to want to plan for friends and family after they are gone, fulfilling their wishes and making things easier for those they leave behind. This is done through an estate plan that allows the individual to prepare for what will happen to his or her assets. When creating an estate plan, an executor is designated in the will to carry out the testator’s final wishes. This person is known as an executor. An executor makes sure the estate plan is taken care of and handled the way it was intended to be by the deceased individual. This is a very important job that requires several responsibilities.

What is the Job of an Executor?

The executor’s responsibilities begin when the individual passes away. The job of the executor is to manage the deceased’s estate, by, among other things, paying expenses and debts, and managing and distributing the assets. One of the first things an executor is required to do is submit the individual’s last will and testament to the county Surrogate (in the county where the decedent resided) for admission to probate. Once the Will is approved for admission to probate, the executor is appointed by the Surrogate and receives Letters Testamentary, also known as short certificates, giving the executor the authority to handle all matters involving the estate.   The executor must handle all financial requirements of the estate. This includes paying any debts and filing any required tax returns. Notice of Probate must also be given to the next of kin and beneficiaries.

Once the estate expenses are paid, the executor is then responsible for distributing all of the assets within the estate to the beneficiaries.  There may be specific bequests, which are paid before the residue of the estate is distributed. There may be items that will have to be paid into trust and there may be out of state real property that will have to be handled by ancillary probate in that state.  In any event, prior to the distribution of assets, an informal accounting is prepared reflecting estate assets and expenses. Refunding Bonds and Releases must be signed prior to making distributions in order to protect the estate and the executor for any unforeseen bequests or expenses.  

It is often beneficial to enlist an experienced attorney or accountant during this time to ensure that all obligations are fulfilled properly. 

Choosing an Executor

When a person is creating an estate plan, appointing an executor is a crucial part. It is important to designate an executor who can be trusted.  An executor should be able to appropriately and skillfully carry out the deceased’s final wishes to the best of his or her ability and reach out for the help of an attorney experienced in these matters if needed.

It is important to know that an executor may be removed. This may happen if the executor fails to meet his or her fiduciary responsibilities through negligence or failure to act in accordance with the terms of the will or in the best interest of the estate and beneficiaries. When this happens, a petition may be filed to have the executor removed. A judge can then either approve or deny the motion and designate a new executor to finish the job.

Contact our Firm

If you or a family member is looking to create a will for your estate and wish to speak with an experienced attorney, contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC today.

The planning and administration of an estate requires experienced legal guidance. If you need an effective attorney to assist you with matters of wills, trusts, and estates, or the taxes associated with them, contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC today to schedule a consultation.