Who Is The Executor Of An Estate, And What Do They Do When I Pass Away?

Posted:  Mar 18, 2022

When we pass away, we don't take anything with us; meaning that we tend to leave behind a whole mess of paperwork, debts, financial assets, and other possessions for someone else to figure out what to do with. That someone else is called an executor. If you have a will before passing away, you can appoint an executor to carry out the terms of that will and ensure all your other affairs are taken care of.

Who Is An Executor Of An Estate?

An executor of an estate is the person who is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as it is laid out in their will. The executor also handles other tasks that are associated with winding out the deceased's affairs, including issuing notices of death, paying off creditors, and filing final tax returns. In some places, the executor may go by other names like "personal representative."

What Does An Executor Of An Estate Do?

An executor of an estate is legally responsible for dealing with the deceased's estate and carrying out the wishes detailed in the will. The following are the duties of an executor of an estate:

Obtain The Death Certificate

When a person dies, the executor requests for certified copies of their death certificate. They can either get it from the funeral home they're working with or from the state's vital records office. The executor will need to provide an official copy of the death certificate to close bank accounts and file insurance claims.

File The Will

One of the important responsibilities of an executor is to file the will with the county's probate court. If the estate needs to go through probate, the executor will need to file a petition for probate. A hearing will be scheduled once a petition for probate is filed to allow the heirs and any other interested parties to object to the will. It is an executor's job to notify these people that they are named as beneficiaries in the will and that the probate process has begun. The executor sends notice by first-class mail or delivers the message of probate in person.

Notify The Government, Friends, Family, And Others

The executor notifies the creditors and beneficiaries or heirs when the will enters the probate process. The executor also notifies any other family and friends who don't know yet about the deceased's passing. If the deceased had been receiving any government benefit, the executor contacts the appropriate agencies to let them know the person who died. Also, he notifies the post office to stop the deceased mails or forward them to his address and cancel their driver's license at the local motor vehicles department. He also contacts insurers to terminate policies that are no longer needed. He closes out financial accounts and cancels any subscriptions the deceased had, such as phone plans.

Open An Estate Bank Account.

The executor opens a temporary bank account in the estate's name to make sure certain bills and debts are paid and deposit any payments made to the deceased. Moving all the state's funds into one account will make keeping track of everything easier for the executor.

Appear In Court

The executor goes to the initial hearing, where the court permits the probate process to move forward. Also, litigation surrounding the probate process could mean more time spent in court. This can happen if heirs can't come to an agreement.

Pay Debts And Taxes

The estate is responsible for settling debts and paying final taxes. This needs to be done before beneficiaries can receive their inheritance. The executor pays both the ongoing bills, such as utility bills or mortgage and pays off the debts that need to be paid in full, all paid out of the estate. The executor notifies the creditors of the death, and they'll be given a certain amount of time to submit a claim. The executor also ensures the estate tax obligations are fulfilled.

Distribute Assets

Once all the estate's obligations are fulfilled and the creditors can no longer make estate claims, the executor begins to distribute the assets as outlined in the will. The executor may need the court's permission before starting this process.


At Stevens And Company Law Corporation, We help families and individuals take steps in the present to prepare for the future by developing their estate plans, including wills, power of attorneys, and representation agreements. Contact us for more information.


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