When someone passes, any remaining debts of a person’s estate must be paid. In order for a person’s beneficiaries to receive any remaining assets, these debts must be taken care of. This is where the executor of an estate comes into play. So, what does an executor of an estate do?

What power does an executor of a will have? An executor of an estate is someone designated to manage the estate—or the assets—of someone who is deceased. They will make sure that these assets are accounted for, and that they are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries. Additionally, they must ensure that the debts of the deceased person are paid off.

Responsibility #1: Submit the Will to the Probate Court

The first of many responsibilities of an executor is to submit the decedent’s will and testament to the probate court. The probate judge will review whether the will is valid and in accordance with state law. Finally, the judge will grant the executor the ability to oversee and act on behalf of the estate. It is important to note that the executor has no power to oversee the estate until granted by the court. The next step is for the executor to gather the estate’s assets.

Responsibility #2: Make Sure Assets are Accounted For

One of the other responsibilities of an executor of an estate is to make sure that all of the deceased person’s assets are accounted for. The executor will submit a probate inventory, which is a detailed list that includes all estate assets and their values and helps the executor determine if the estate qualifies for a simplified probate procedure. This list can include items such as:

  • Intellectual property
  • Unpaid wages and business interests
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Life insurance, and retirement accounts
  • Real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles

The executor is the person who will secure and distribute the estate’s assets according to the deceased person’s request. Once the assets have been identified, they must be gathered by the executor for safekeeping. This step may include further investigation to locate all assets. Typically, executors go through the deceased person’s files or reach out to family members to locate these assets. In most states, the executor must then submit a form of accounting for the deceased person’s assets to the probate court.

Responsibility #3: Ensure that the Debts of the Deceased are Paid

What does an executor of an estate do to ensure that debts of the deceased person are paid off? The first step of this responsibility is to identify and notify the decedent’s creditors of their death. Once the creditors have been identified and their claim validated, the executor is responsible to pay those debts from the assets of the estate. The executor is further responsible for filing tax returns and paying taxes and administration expenses prior to transferring assets to the beneficiaries.

Responsibility #4: Transfer Assets to the Estate Beneficiaries

Once all assets are accounted for, and all debts, taxes, and administrative expenses paid, the executor seeks permission from the probate court to distribute the assets to the estate beneficiaries.

Join Our Free Workshop on May 13 | Estate Checklist: Understanding Your Responsibilities as Personal Representative or Trustee

Attorney at Caress Law, Tasha Lyn Cosimo, is hosting a free virtual workshop: Estate Checklist: Understanding Your Responsibilities as Personal Representative or Trustee. Register today to secure your spot in this eye-opening workshop that will teach you everything you need to know about your role as a personal representative or trustee.

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