When someone passes away, the person in charge of settling their estate and ensuring that their final wishes are carried out is known as the will executor. The job can be complex, involving legal and financial decisions and family dynamics. It’s important to choose the right person for the task, who can stay on top of court proceedings and paperwork as well as manage assets until they are distributed to heirs.
It’s common to choose a spouse or close friend as executor. A child or adult grandchild is another popular choice. However, it’s important to consider whether or not the executor is likely to cause bickering among heirs, as the role is one that can lead to will contests. It’s also important to understand that you can appoint more than one executor in your will, but they must act jointly.
Understanding the Role of a Will Executor: Responsibilities, Powers, and Legal Duties
The duties of the executor include finding and reading the will, locating all the assets in the estate (including real estate and securities) and determining what they are worth. The executor must then decide who inherits each asset. It’s possible that the estate may owe more than it is worth, and the executor must decide how to readjust the assets so that the debts are paid, if necessary by liquidating some assets or reducing inheritances.
Often, the executor will need to get professional advice. Probate court clerks can help with basic questions, but they are not allowed to give specific legal advice. Lawyers, accountants and corporate trustees are all available to offer advice, but they will charge a fee for their services.