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What is an executor of an estate?

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Wills

A will is a complex legal document in your estate plan. Simply put, a will is a set of instructions left behind for family and friends of the deceased (or testator) that detail how the deceased’s assets are distributed. Typically, testators have their assets distributed to family and friends as heirs or beneficiaries. 

The estate distribution process is likewise a complex legal endeavor. To help ensure that assets are distributed according to the testator’s last wishes, the testator can name an executor of the estate. The executor of the estate is responsible for handling any matters left behind by the testator. Here’s what you should know:

What are the duties of an executor?

The main thing that the executor of the estate is responsible for is filing the will in probate court, having the will validated, and seeing the estate through to its closing.

What is probate? Probate is the process that allows the executor to complete their duties, such as locating, collecting and distributing the testator’s assets. The executor should also contact any beneficiaries of the estate. However, heirs should be aware that the probate process can last up to several months to a year before they see any inheritance. 

Furthermore, the executor should collect several death certificates. These death certificates will likely be used to show banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the testator’s passing. 

Because the probate process can take so long, the executor may also be responsible for the upkeep of any properties. They may also be required to pay estate taxes and debts.

How do you pick an executor?

An executor can be anyone of legal age. Many testators name close family members to administer their estate. When establishing an executor for your will, you may need to understand your legal options.