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What Does an Executor Do?

 Posted on November 24, 2017 in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning lawyerWhen someone asks you to be the executor of their last will and testament, you may feel both honored and also overwhelmed. What exactly does an executor do? Who can be an executor? Being an executor of someone’s will is a huge responsibility, but with some research and help, most are able to take on the challenge.

An Important Role

The overall job of an executor is to make sure a person's last wishes are granted with regards to the disposition of their property and possessions. He or she is responsible for paying the deceased's debts and creditors, and distributing any remaining money or property according to the deceased’s wishes. The law does not require an executor to be a lawyer or financial expert, however, it does require than an executor fulfill their duties with honesty and diligence. This responsibility is called "fiduciary duty," which means that the executor must act in good faith and in the best interests of the deceased person’s estate.

The specific responsibilities required of the executor will depend upon the complexity of the will, but duties often include:

  • Paying off debts and creditors: This must be done before any heirs may receive their inheritance;
  • Managing the deceased’s money: Most executors set up a bank account for the estate to keep the estate's money separate from their own funds;
  • Managing the deceased’s property: The executor must find and collect the deceased person's assets and keep them safe until they can be properly distributed to those named in the will or to creditors;
  • Contacting heirs: Executors must contact the people that were named in a will who are supposed to inherit money or property;
  • Filing the will: Executors must make sure the will is presented for verification in the appropriate probate court;
  • Managing final expenses and notifying the appropriate entities: Executors may need to cancel credit cards, and well as notify the deceased’s bank and the Social Security Administration of his or her death;
  • Ensuring distribution of the deceased's property: Property that is specifically mentioned in the will should be distributed according to the will;
  • Property that is not mentioned must be divided according to state law;Making continuing payments: If the deceased has a mortgage payment or other reoccurring bills, you may be required to pay them with the estate’s money; and
  • Filing a final tax return: It is usually up the executor to file the deceased person’s last tax return and to resolve any outstanding tax debts.

Contact an Experienced Estate Attorney Today

If you are the executor of a will or you have questions about naming an executor in your own will, an experienced Lombard estate planning lawyer can help. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation today.



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