An Experienced Probate Attorney Explains the Role of Executor

Your brother has asked you to be the executor of his estate, and you have no idea how to respond to that question. It’s an important decision to make, and before you do so, you should have a good understanding of the duties involved. Keep in mind that no two estates are alike, so your role may be more involved than the general duties listed here.

Executor Duties

Generally, the basic duties you’ll be asked to do are:

  • Make a list of the beneficiaries.
  • Manage the finances of the estate, including paying all debts of the descendant.
  • File tax returns, if applicable.
  • Keep records and provide the court an accounting at the end of the estate liquidation.
  • Distribute the assets to the estate beneficiaries.

Fiduciary Relationship

Because you have a fiduciary relationship with the estate, you must act with reasonable care, make good faith decisions and maintain confidentiality. You must pay all outstanding bills and collect all assets that are to be probated. At all times, you should follow the instructions indicated in the last will and testament.

If you fail to perform these duties you can face causation and punitive damages. It is important to note that even though you accept the role now, you can always ask the probate court to relieve you of your duties if you find the job too overwhelming, or you otherwise cannot serve as executor.

For more questions on the executor role, drafting a will or other estate matters, contact us for a consultation.