When You Are Named Estate Executor

As an estate executor, you are responsible for keeping the estate in good order, protecting tangible assets, and safely managing the estate’s funds until final settlement of the estate. During probate, you cannot exercise your official, legal rights as executor until the court establishes that the deceased left a valid will and subsequently issues “letters testamentary” that formally name you as the executor. The probate process can be lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive, but it is usually fairly simple. As designated executor, you must file a petition for probate in the appropriate court, submitting the death certificate and the original will.

The formal duties of an executor also include the following:

  • Ascertaining what the deceased owned and collecting any money due on the decedent’s estate.
  • Paying outstanding bills and claims against the estate.
  • Managing assets wisely until they can be distributed according to the will.
  • Handling insurance, trusts, and any other situations that are not specifically covered in the will.
  • Distributing property according to the wishes of the deceased, as expressed in the will.
  • Paying all estate and inheritance taxes.
  • Assuring all affairs of the estate are formally settled to the satisfaction of the probate court.

An executor has to work closely with the decedent’s family and attorneys. An attorney’s staff can generally handle routine tasks adequately, and an inexperienced executor may be able to obtain help from a personal legal professional and/or the legal counsel for the estate. As you can see, knowing what is required of you will help you successfully complete your tasks as an executor.


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