Things You Should Know as an Executor of Will

A last will states the last requests of the deceased and a fundamental building block to any estate plan. It goes beyond capturing a loved one’s last goodbye. Through a will, assets become gathered and distributed. Also, instructions laid out to settle business affairs, debts, and file any necessary tax returns. In that regard, an executor will be entrusted with the responsibility of distributing these assets. If you’re named the executor of a will, it may be overwhelming to sift through complicated matters of someone else’s life. Here’s a guide to help you fulfill the individual’s final wishes.



Movies often depict an executor’s job in a more romantic light wherein the trusted person accepts the responsibility of dividing the deceased person’s belongings among his or her loved ones. However, expect it to be far more complicated in reality. It handles the person’s property and arranges for payment of estate debts and expenses. It requires a serious commitment that demands diligence and honest work, making it a role that should be carefully considered before deciding to accept the honor of being named an executor. To that end the typical responsibilities executors will tackle include:


Determine the need for probate

One of the first tasks of an executor includes determining whether or not the deceased’s estate needs to go through probate. This necessary step proves the genuinity of the will. You can work with the court or lawyer to analyze how much of the estate must go through probate. However, some instances deemed unnecessary. Typically, these are estates defined as “small” by the state law. 


Determine and estimate the value of the estate

Before an estate goes through probate, the executor will first need to take inventory of the entire estate and estimate its total value. This typically consumes much time as professional appraisers may need to be hired to conclude the correct estimation, including rare items the deceased used to own. In cases where the estate does not go through probate, the executor should work with the court or a lawyer to discern the value of the estate.


Protect the property and pay bills

This means that the executor must protect a property until properly distributed to heirs or sold. Other than the listed properties included in the last will, the executor should also locate any safety deposit boxes, specialized items like jewelry, artworks, and other properties for safekeeping, followed by a decision on whether or not these should be sold.


Wrapping up the deceased’s affairs

Beyond settling payments, an executor should also settle debts for mortgages, loans, insurance, utilities, and other bills due within a year of the individual’s death. In between these bigger jobs, other details like subscriptions or accounts should be canceled. The deceased’s office and other affairs should also be notified of his or her death.


Distribute Estate Property

After the completion of probate comes the distribution of most of the property to its designated heirs. This includes property, stocks, bonds, cash, and other items of value for the beneficiaries specified in the will. In cases of property left, it should go through the laws of the state and be disposed of accordingly.


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  1. “Executor - Definition, Examples, Processes.” Legal Dictionary, 13 Aug. 2015,
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