Things To Know About Executors of Estates

The executor is responsible for settling your affairs after death.

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva August 23, 2020

What is an Executor of an estate?

An executor of a will, or and estate trustee with a will, is a person who takes on the job of carrying out the instructions you leave in your will when you die. An executor can be an individual or a legal entity. Although it is an honor to be named as an executor, being an executor is also a huge responsibility and a time-consuming process, and you will see why it is so in a moment.

What are Executor’s duties?

Although the main task of an Executor is to distribute the estate of the deceased person, he or she will need to perform multiple tasks first. The tasks include arranging the funeral, identifying and managing the assets, locating the recipients of the estate (also known as the beneficiaries, or heirs), getting the probate of the will, and paying taxes and debts of the testator.

Who can be an Executor?

Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor. If you leave something to a person in your will, the recipient can still be your executor. Many people choose their family members, such as spouse or children to be an executor, and we will address this a little bit later. Some appoint friends. Some people choose professional executors, such as a trust company.

Who is the right Executor?

When people ask me this question, my first answer is that they should chose someone they trust. Your executor will be dealing with all the assets and liabilities you have, and you expect them to preserve your estate for the benefit of your heirs.

Financial literacy and ability to handle the paperwork are also important for a good executor. For example, you executor will have to make a detailed inventory of your assets, put your will through probate, complete various forms for the government, insurance and banks, and file your final income tax return.

After all, make sure that your executor agrees to handle all this. Ask them before you write your will. Although they can change their mind down the road, you will at least know who does not want to handle your estate at all.

Think twice before choosing your spouse or child as an executor. Your death will be a difficult time for them, and they may be unable to manage your finances and estate paperwork because of this.

Is it difficult to be an Executor?

Being an executor can be a complicated job, even if your instructions and property are simple.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that the estate administration takes a great amount of time. For this reason, people hire lawyers and accountants to handle much of the paperwork.

An executor may create tensions in the family even if they simply do their job. Heirs often rush with the distribution of the estate, cherry-pick valuables of the deceased, or have their own vision of the wishes of the testator. Also, the will may give latitude to an executor in deciding whether to distribute the property of the deceased, or to sell the property and distribute cash, while the heirs can have their own vision of estate administration process.

Executors also bear financial liabilities. They must pay taxes and debts of the testator before transferring the net estate to the beneficiaries of the estate. If the executor pays heirs first and do not have sufficient funds left in the estate to pay taxes and debts, they are personally liable for amounts owing.


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