What Does it Mean to be an Executor of a Will?

When we die, the real and personal property we owned at the time of death becomes our estate. An executor is known as a personal representative or administrator at this point and is the person named in a will to be in charge of seeing that all the terms of the will are fulfilled under the law.

It is both an honor and a burden to serve as an executor. It is an

  • Honor because it means that whoever named you as their executor trusted and respected you above all others.
  • Burden because an executor must handle all of the details of settling the affairs and seeing an estate completely through the probate process.

An executor is usually a relative or very close friend that is very familiar with the wishes of the deceased. Once you take on the role of executor, or personal representative, you are expected to act fairly and impartially and with good judgment.

Following the terms of the will and disposing of an estate through probate is not an easy process. An experienced probate lawyer can make this task much easier on the personal representative. Your attorney will be familiar with the required forms needed for the probate process and the many different deadlines that must be met. Some of the things that your attorney will help you with are:

  • Opening the probate case with the Court
  • Identifying and notifying all potential heirs of the existence of the estate and the deadlines that affect them
  • Finding and identifying all of the assets of the estate and listing them with the Court
  • Notifying creditors of the estate and the deadlines they have to file a claim for any money they think they are owed
  • Obtaining appraisals and valuations of real and personal property
  • Recognizing when a creditors’ claim against the estate is valid
  • Paying valid claims
  • Preparing and filing tax returns for the estate
  • Knowing when all of the legal requirements have been met and the estate can be closed
  • Filing the closing paperwork with the Court and getting the Judge’s approval
  • Distributing all of the remaining assets of the estate

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