What Are My Responsibilities as Executor of a Will?


The opportunity to serve as an executor or personal representative of a loved one’s will can be an esteemed honor, but it also carries significant responsibilities. As such, it’s crucial to ensure you understand the duties and obligations associated with this role before accepting it. Simply put, an executor is responsible for distributing a decedent’s property, arranging to pay estate debts and expenses, and ensuring the heirs properly distribute what remains. If you’ve been appointed an executor, it’s in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable Montgomery County Will Drafting Attorney who can help you navigate your responsibilities to avoid serious legal ramifications. 

What Are the Primary Duties of an Executor of a Will?

Executors have numerous duties they must carry out. First, they must use reasonable efforts to locate the will. Once it has been secured, they are responsible for determining whether probate court proceedings are needed. Probate isn’t always necessary. Inheritance laws can facilitate the passing of specific properties. For instance, most jointly owned assets will pass to the surviving owner without probate. If the deceased person’s property is worth less than a certain amount, it may be able to go through a streamlined probate process. However, if probate is required, the executor must file a petition with the court and appear on behalf of the estate.

Moreover, the executor will handle the day-to-day duties. This includes terminating leases and notifying banks, credit card companies, and government agencies- such as the Social Security Administration and Medicare of the death. After carrying out these duties, the executor must set up an estate bank account for incoming funds and pay any ongoing bills. Essentially, if the decedent is owed money, such as incoming paychecks or stock dividends, this account can hold them. Executors use estate funds to pay continuing expenses such as utility bills and mortgage payments. In addition, the executor is responsible for identifying the beneficiaries. The executor must read the will to figure out who inherits the property.

If there are probate proceedings, the executor must notify creditors and file a final income tax return covering the period from the beginning of the tax year to the date of death. Furthermore, the executor must maintain the estate until it can be distributed or sold. They must distribute assets according to the wishes expressed in the will. If there is no will, intestacy laws will apply.

Does the Person Have to Serve?

If you’ve been appointed executor of an estate, you can accept or decline this responsibility. If you agree to serve but your circumstances have changed, you may resign at any time. If the will named an alternate person to serve, that person would take over. If an alternate person is not appointed, the court will designate someone to step in to perform the duties of this role.

As you can see, it’s both an honor and a burden to serve as someone’s executor. If you have been appointed an executor, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted attorney from JD Katz, who can help you understand the duties associated with this role to avoid serious legal consequences.