What Are the Responsibilities of a Will Executor?

The deceased specifies in his will who he chose as executor of the will. He may have named an individual, a group of individuals or a business, such as a bank or trust company. The named executor carries out the wishes of the deceased as outlined in the will. The executor, commonly called a personal representative or administrator, ultimately distributes the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.

General Duties

According to EstateSettler.com, the executor of an estate, must "...gather and inventory all of your property at the time of your death, determine all your outstanding debts, pay all of your legitimate debts and then distribute the remaining property in accordance with the instructions provided in your Will." The executor protects and controls all the assets of the deceased until final distribution to the beneficiaries. Therefore, the job of executor takes a person or entity of great responsibility.

First Step

First, find a copy of the deceased's will. If you don't have a copy, you may find it in a safe deposit box or on file with the deceased's attorney. If necessary, notify the next of kin. Make and pay for funeral arrangements. Hire an estate or probate lawyer at this juncture if your state requires representation or if you prefer having professional counsel. If anyone challenges the validity of the will, the probate court determines validity of the will. Once the court has decided in favor of the will's validity, you may begin carrying out the administrative duties.

Administrative Duties

The executor must take control of and protect all of the testator's (the creator of the will's) assets until final distribution. Typically, a list of all assets carefully outlines the full extent of the testator's assets, including a value for every asset in the estate. The executor settles all bills, taxes, funeral expenses or other liabilities of the estate. Then, once the court agrees with the final settlement figures, the executor distributes the balance of the estate to the beneficiaries in the exact manner as described in the testator's will.

Final Accounting

First, the executor administers specific bequests, such as giving a particular vehicle to a named beneficiary. Then, the executor distributes the remaining part of the estate to the remaining beneficiaries. The executor provides the beneficiaries of the estate with a complete accounting of every asset and expense of the estate. This final accounting clearly details the final distribution for the benefit of all beneficiaries who were named in the will.