The executor of a will is the person entrusted with the responsibility of administering a person's will after their death. They become responsible for overseeing the disposition of a person's property, possessions, and other assets, and for ensuring that any debts the deceased have are paid off before inheritances can be distributed. There is no law stating that the executor must be a lawyer or financial expert, but they are bound by "fiduciary duty" to serve with honesty and good faith.
Specific Duties of the Executor
Duties can vary depending on the type and complexity of the will, but generally, an executor can expect to handle some or all of the following:
- Finding and keeping assets safe until they can be distributed or sold
- Probating the will in court, if deemed necessary
- Ensuring that the will is filed in the appropriate probate court
- Concluding the affairs of the deceased, including notifying banks, credit card companies, or other government agencies of their death and closing their accounts
- Opening a bank account for the estate separate from their own funds
- Continuing to make recurring payments on assets or insurance related to the maintenance of property in the will until it can be distributed or sold
- Notifying creditors of the death and making arrangements for paying off any debts
- Paying off any remaining unpaid income taxes of the deceased
- Finding and contacting beneficiaries named in the will
- Overseeing the distribution of property given in the will
Being named as an executor is both an honor and a considerable responsibility and commitment. Your job may be made more or less difficult, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Regardless of how you got the job, you should know that you don't have to fulfill your duty alone. An experienced attorney is an indispensable resource to have available to answer any legal questions that may arise during the process.
If you need assistance or have questions about your role as the executor of a will, contact the Nassau County elder law attorneys at The Virdone Law Firm, P.C. to obtain the legal advice you need to make your job go as smoothly as possible.