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  • Writer's pictureMcNickle & Bonner

What Is an Executor and What Do They Do?

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

In times of grief and uncertainty, someone has to step in to be responsible for bringing order, handling details, and even perhaps working in the interests of heirs and beneficiaries. This person is known as an executor.

Executor Handling a Loved One's Last Will & Testament

What Does an Executor Do?

Being named an executor in the will or testament of a deceased person shows you are trustworthy and is a position of great honor. You have to make sure everything stated as the deceased's last wishes are carried out and also that the people they loved and left behind get all the benefits intended for them.

The role of an executor is mainly determined by how complex the will is and the properties to be distributed.

An executor carries out the following duties:

  • Probating the last will and testament in court

  • Valuing of real estate and personal property

  • Setting up a bank account for the estate

  • Paying off creditors

  • Paying taxes

  • Wrapping up financial affairs

  • Finding beneficiaries

  • Distribution of the deceased property.

How Is an Executor Appointed?

Sometimes, the deceased's will names an estate executor. However, in cases where the person dies intestate (has no will) or has their will ruled as invalid, a probate court judge names a close relative to serve in this capacity. In this case, the person is called a personal representative or administrator, rather than an executor.

There are few restrictions as regards who can be an executor. The individual shouldn’t be under the age of 18 and shouldn’t be a felon. Restrictions could be against a person who lives out of state.

When you are named as an executor by a person, you are not responsible for anything yet until they are deceased. In the event of their death, you will be asked to either accept this responsibility or turn it down. It's entirely your choice.

Does a Court Need to Approve an Executor?

Yes, a court has to approve a person who has been nominated to become an executor. Once you have met the court’s requirements and are approved, you can proceed with your duties.

Can an Executor Be a Beneficiary?

Most states have no laws prohibiting this practice, so it's possible for an executor to simultaneously be a beneficiary. However, you should note that executor payment is taxable, while the proceeds from being a beneficiary are not taxable.

Does an Executor Get Paid?

Ideally, there’s a provision for an executor to get paid. However, in a case where there’s none, the state where the deceased died would determine how much they will be paid.

Hiring the Right Will Attorney

Setting up a will is very crucial, and something you shouldn't neglect to do. Are you concerned about estate distribution, trusteeship, or are looking to appoint an estate executor? Or do you need to speak to legal experts concerning the details? At McNickle& Bonner, our wills and estate attorneys can put you through the legal requirements and implications. Contact us today.


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