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What Does an Executor Do?

Naming an executor is one of the most important parts of the estate planning process because the executor is the person who is responsible for ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are carried out and that all financial obligations are taken care of appropriately. The duties of an executor can range from distributing monies from the inheritance to paying debts or taxes left behind.

The vast majority of people choose to name a close friend or family member as the executor in their wills because they trust these people and believe they will carry out their wishes responsibly. However, you should not feel like you have to name a child or any other person as executor unless you truly believe he or she is the right person for the job. Because it is possible for an executor to refuse the position, it is advisable to have two or three people named as backups in the will. Without this precaution, the court may have to make a decision on who will be executor.

Once the executor has been named and the person has accepted the duties, the estate administration process begins. Depending on the amount and type of assets and how clear and detailed the person’s will was, the estate administration process can be fairly simple or more complex and drawn out.

The majority of estate executors will not have any legal experience or knowledge and can feel overwhelmed at what needs to be done and how to do it, especially at a time when the person is likely to be grieving. A Massachusetts estate administration and probate attorney can help answer questions and guide the executor through the process from beginning to end.

Source: FindLaw, “Will Executor Duties FAQ” accessed Feb. 06, 2015

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