Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Role of an Executor

Question: What is the role of an executor?

Answer: Being an executor of an estate is often a thankless job. An executor is the person responsible for managing the administration of a deceased individual’s estate. Of course, the time and effort involved will vary with the size of the estate. But in every estate, even a small estate, important duties must be performed correctly and timely, or the executor may be liable to the estate and the beneficiaries.

The executor is either named in the Will or if there is no Will, the executor must be appointed by the court. An executor named in the Will is not required to accept the position of executor.

The executor has a number of duties, some of which include locating important documents (like the Will), filing the petition to open the estate, notifying interested persons (the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate), paying expenses and debts of the decedent, managing the decedent’s property (ordering appraisals, selling real estate), filing income tax returns, and submitting important documents to the court (inventory of assets, an accounting, etc.). And of course, the executor is responsible for making distributions to the estate beneficiaries.

Comment: Executors are entitled to receive compensation for serving as executor. Often, family members who are also beneficiaries of the estate, will serve without compensation. Many executors hire counsel to advise them through the process. The lawyer engaged by the executor will assist with ensuring the estate is being administered properly and will help navigate the various deadlines.


As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please let me know. 


Steven E. Shane

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.



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