Understanding Your Responsibilities as Executor of a Will

May 20, 2019


When a Will is made, someone will need to be named as the executor. This is the person who will be responsible for ensuring the wishes of the deceased will be properly fulfilled. Depending on the size and complexity of the Will, this can be a lot of work that needs to be handled correctly in order to ensure there aren’t any problems. If you have been nominated in a will to be an executor, make sure you take some time to read about the primary responsibilities that you will have. Also, it’s important to understand that an executor named in a will has no authority to do anything with the estate until formerly appointed by the probate court.

Gather All Relevant Legal Documents

Once an executor is approved by the court, the first thing you will need to do is seek out all the relevant legal documents that will apply to the situation. This will include the most up to date copy of the Last Will and Testament, a death certificate, and possibly copies of any trusts. You and your attorney will take the time needed to read through these documents to get a proper understanding of what the deceased intended. If you do not have the relevant legal experience, don’t try to do this alone.

Notify Relevant Parties

While loved ones will typically have already been notified, there are a lot of other parties that will need to know about the death. This would include creditors (including mortgage company), debtors, businesses that performed services for the deceased, and others. Notifying them of the death will allow them to take the necessary actions on these accounts, and to work with you to ensure everything is settled properly.

Find and Manage Assets

As the executor, you will be the one to distribute the assets to heirs according to the information in the Will. Until the estate goes through probate and you are able to distribute assets, however, you will be responsible for managing them. For example, if there is a home as part of the overall estate, you will be responsible for ensuring the lawn is mowed, the monthly bills are paid, and it is kept in good condition. You can hire people to perform much of this work, and they will be paid from the assets of the estate.

Distribute Assets

As soon as possible, you will want to begin distributing the assets of the estate to the heirs of the deceased. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to over a year depending on how complex the estate is, and what amount of estate planning was done. The Will has to go through the probate courts, which is where any claims against the estate will be settled. You will effectively represent the interests of the estate through this process.

We Are Here to Help

There are many other responsibilities that an executor will have, which can make it seem overwhelming. While it may seem like a lot at first, there is no reason to worry. You do not have to handle it all on your own. Most executors will hire an attorney to help work through all the different legal steps. Please contact us to schedule a consultation right away.