What Does An Executor Do?

February 16, 2021

So welcome back, everybody, to our series today we’re talking about what does an executor do?

And first of all, if you haven’t watched the video on what is a will, I encourage you to check that out, it will give you a little bit of an overview, what a will is, how it functions and what probate is. But we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into this video. We’re going to talk a little bit about on executor’s functions. So, first of all, executors are for wills and trustees are for trusts.

That’s an important distinction. So we’re going to use the right terminology here. If you name someone to handle your affairs in your will, they’re called your executor.

They’re called your executor because execute is a fancy legal word for sign. When you sign a contract, you execute it. And that’s true with a will.

But what we want is someone to sign for us because we’re not going to be there in order to transfer our assets, our estate, we call it, to the next in line to our beneficiary’s name in our will.

And so we need someone to sign for us. There is our signer, they’re our executor, they’re going to sign the bill of sale. They’re going to sign the grant deed, transferring property, and they’re going to do some other things, too. So what are those things?

Well, there are about four steps, lots more detail in there. But just to keep it simple, you’ve got the initial step of being appointed as the executor. Just because you get named in a will doesn’t automatically give you any legal authority.

You’re only nominated as the executor of the will until the judge signs an order appointing you. That means we have to ask the judge for permission to function as the legal executor of the estate.

That means we have to file paperwork called a petition. And ask the judge and say, hey, here’s the will, here’s my executor. I’m going to try and probate estate. And so that first step is the petition step. Notices go out to all the heirs and the beneficiaries. You publish a notice in the newspaper, court hearing and then you get hopefully appointed as the executor of the estate, and that will we say it’s admitted to probate, OK?

And after that happens, the executor gets a document called Letters from the Court that’s kind of his marching orders that he can take to a bank or an investment firm or whatever, that shows that he has the legal authority to function as the executor and usually has to post a bond unless it’s waived in a will, so there’s insurance for him and so forth.

But once that initial first step of petition and appointment is done, then we’re going to notify people so you’re going to send notice to creditors. This is the second step and notifies our creditors and we’re going to pay bills out of the estate.

So and then the next step is somewhat simultaneous is we’re going to collect assets. So we’re going to go find the assets of the person that passed away and we’re going to get them into the name of the estate. And we’ll prepare an inventory that goes to a special appraiser called the probate referee and the probate referee is going to assign a value to those estate assets.

So we’re going to collect assets, get them appraised, pay bills, pay off creditors.

And then once those steps are complete and those again get filed, every step gets filed with the judge and the probate court.

Once those are done and we have assets on hand that we’re ready to distribute, then we file another request with the court called the petition for distribution. And that petition says, hey, the will says we get a third, third, a third to the person that passed away children’s, we have a hundred thousand dollars or whatever it is in assets. And so we want to distribute it in equal third shares or whatever the will says. A judge is going to review that, the examining attorneys review that.

And when the judge approves and there’s a hearing and there’s an order, then we can write checks.

So that whole process is probate collect, petition, get appointed, collect the assets, pay off creditors, and then petition for distribution usually takes at least six months. A fast Probate firm will do it potentially in six to nine months. It’s not uncommon for it to take a year because of delays in hearings or sales of real property or whatever. So it can take a little while.

And that’s generally why people want to avoid probate, is because nobody receives in any inheritance money for a very long time.

And it also has flat fees like the executor gets paid the same way the attorney gets paid on a percentage of the assets of the estate.

So that in a nutshell, is what the executor does they’re going to get appointed, collect the assets, pay off bills, transfer the balance to the beneficiaries, all under the supervision of the probate court judge.

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