What does the executor of an estate do?

If you are creating your estate plan, or if you have been appointed as the executor of an estate by someone close to you, you should be aware of the roles and responsibilities that an executor will take on. Having a general understanding of this can help you select an appropriate party if you are creating your estate plan, or prepare yourself for what you will need to do if you are the executor.

Broadly speaking, an executor is the legal representative of the decedent and that person’s estate. The responsibilities of this person will largely center on legal and financial obligations.

More specifically, the administrator is generally tasked with:

  • Collecting assets
  • Paying creditors
  • Locating heirs and beneficiaries
  • Distributing assets
  • Attending court hearings
  • Providing the courts with estate documentation
  • Filing tax returns
  • Closing financial accounts
  • Paying the decedent’s mortgage

As you can see, an administrator’s obligations and responsibilities are considerable, and they have the potential to be quite complicated. This is especially true if the decedent has significant or complex assets that must be handled.

With all this in mind, it is crucial that an executor be prepared to handle this role. He or she should be someone who is comfortable managing finances, has the time to devote to administrative duties, and capable of organizing and filing legal documentation.

Further, if you are creating a will, it would be helpful to talk with your intended executor ahead of time so he or she can ask questions, object and/or prepare.

If you have questions about whom you should name as the executor of your estate, or if you are the executor of an estate and have questions or concerns about your duties, then you can discuss these matters with an experienced estate planning attorney.