A will, like several other kinds of legal documents, is not only a piece of paper, signed and prepared in a certain way. It also directly appoints or implies an individual who will bear the responsibility of carrying out the wishes expressed in the will document, as well as several other duties. This person is known as the executor of the will. If you have been appointed as an executor, or if you are considering who to appoint as your own executor, it is vital to understand an executor’s responsibilities.
The most obvious function of an executor is to ensure that the wishes of the will’s creator are followed (provided that those wishes are legal to begin with), especially regarding estate distribution. However, another, often more time consuming component of serving as an executor is to perform the day-to-day and month-to-month work of maintaining various properties in an estate until the estate has been completely distributed. An executor may also make any court appearances that are necessary to complete the distribution.
In a very practical way, these are some of the most important duties. Suppose you are the executor of a will for your one surviving parent. When he or she passes, you have the responsibility of maintaining the home they lived in until it can be either distributed according to the will to a beneficiary, transitioned into a rental property, or sold. Realistically, this process is never a matter of days — it is more likely to be a matter of months, at the very least. If no one is responsible for maintaining the property, from repairs and upkeep, to posting payment for various bills and taxes for the property, then the value of the property could be greatly diminished, costing beneficiaries thousands of dollars. This is only one example of how important an executor can be to all relevant parties.
As an executor, you have the right to request payment, but most executors serve without payment. It is also accepted for an executor to resign, but that may mean that a court must appoint an executor if no alternate executor is listed in the will documented. Clearly, fulfilling the role is a great an sober responsibility. If you need assistance in completing an executor’s duties, an experienced attorney can help you make sure that you are covering all the bases and fulfilling your duties excellently.
Source: Findlaw, “Will Executor Duties FAQ,” accessed Dec. 13, 2016