Understanding the Responsibilities of an Executor

When a person creates an estate plan, the estate plan typically includes a Will and that Will typically names an executor. If a person does not create a will, courts will assign an executor of their estate after their death.

So what exactly is an executor?

If you’ve been named executor of a deceased loved one’s Will and/or estate, you may be wondering, “What does this even mean?”

The executor is the person who “executes,” or puts into action, the wishes laid out in the Will. In situations where there is no will, the executor makes sure the deceased’s assets are distributed in keeping with intestate law.

The executor can be a paid professional or a trusted loved one of the deceased. If you’ve been named the executor of an estate and you aren’t sure how to proceed, a lawyer can help you make sure you fulfill all of your duties.

What are an executor’s responsibilities?

At a glance, the executor is responsible for overseeing the distribution of the deceased’s estate to the person or people who will inherit it. Sometimes, however, it is a bit more involved than it sounds.

Probate: Probate oversees the process and the executor must file updates with probate court so that they are held accountable for carrying out the deceased’s affairs properly.

Paying debts: If the deceased person was in debts, those debts will need to be paid before anyone inherits anything. If there are not enough liquid assets, this may involve selling property and applying the profits to the debts.

Paying taxes: The estate of the deceased will still owe income taxes for the final year of the deceased person’s life. Large estates are also sometimes subject to estate taxes. The executor is responsible for making sure these taxes are paid.

Notifying beneficiaries: It is the executor’s responsibility to notify the beneficiaries of the estate of what they are inheriting.

Transferring assets: The executor also carries out the transfer of assets at the end of the probate process.

If you have been named an executor and aren’t sure of how to begin, contact Carroll Law Office today. We can help you navigate the process. To learn more about how we can help you, give us a call at (707) 536-1156.