An Overview of Executor Responsibilities

Estates & Trusts | October 20, 2022 | Written by Natasha Nair

When drafting a will and determining how your estate will be distributed after your passing, it is crucial to ensure that you choose an executor you trust. As experts in wills, estates, and trust law, the team at Linley Welwood knows how important an executor is for every will. That is why our team has provided an overview of executor responsibilities to help you understand what these individuals can and cannot do when handling your estate.

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What is an Executor?

An executor is an individual who is responsible for protecting and administering your estate after your passing. After paying off your debts and collecting outstanding debts owed to you, they will then distribute the rest of your estate according to the instructions within your will. A significant amount of time and effort is required to carry out the duties of an executor. Every executor must also be impartial and act to ensure that all beneficiaries receive what is owed to them according to the instructions in your will.  Regardless of the size or complexity of your estate, an executor must be named in your will. If one is not named, someone will need to apply to perform this role. It may also be worth naming a second or backup executor if your first choice becomes ineligible or decides to step down.

What are Executors Responsible for?

The job of an executor can be challenging, especially for more complicated estates. That is why it is important to understand what they are responsible for and what they can do. Some responsibilities and duties of an executor include:

  • Organizing your funeral and burial wishes.
  • Paying off estate debts.
  • Recovering outstanding debts owed to the estate.
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries.
  • Communicating with heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Filing taxes on behalf of the deceased and the estate.

While executors must follow the instructions outlined in the will, they may have the power to make certain decisions if you did not clearly express your wishes or did not express them at all. It is important to note that once an executor starts dealing with estate assets, they are legally bound to continue until discharged by court order.

Limitations to Executor Abilities

Though an executor is responsible for many aspects of an estate, there are limits to their abilities. The following are some examples of what an executor cannot do:

  • Change the beneficiaries listed in the will.
  • Sign the will on behalf of the will maker if it was not signed before they passed away.
  • Execute the will before the will maker has passed away.
  • Stop beneficiaries from contesting the will.

If the beneficiaries feel that an executor is not fairly or adequately performing their duties, they can request the court or their legal counsel to become involved. In some cases, the court may remove the executor and appoint a new administrator of an estate.

To learn more about executors or to inquire about our services for wills and estates, get in touch with the team at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services or your will.

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