Estate Executors: What You Need To Know

People who leave a will detailing how the assets of their estate are to be distributed will typically name an executor in that will.  An executor is a person who is charged with fulfilling the terms of the will and managing the estate's assets under the watchful eye of the probate court. Anyone named as an executor should know as much about the position as possible. The following article examines this important legal topic.


Executors have a wide range of responsibilities they must fulfill to do those jobs properly. They must inform any beneficiaries of the will that the deceased has passed away and that the terms of the will are in effect. Executors must also file the will with the probate court, gather all of the estate assets and pay all of the estate's debts and taxes. They will need to maintain all of the assets during the probate period, making sure that any losses, such as a decline in the value of stocks held by the estate, are minimal.

Once the will has moved through the probate court and is approved for implementation, the executor is charged with distributing the assets to the heirs under the terms of the will.


Executors are often close relatives of the deceased, such as a sibling, child, nephew, or niece, who are not experienced in the types of issues that a person in this position must deal with. For instance, some estates have complicated tax issues that a layperson is not able to handle on their own. In this instance, a tax attorney or other tax professional would be required to settle any outstanding tax problems.

Additionally, many people do not have a working knowledge of how probate courts operate. As the executor of an estate, you would be well-advised to hire an experienced probate attorney to advise you on that matter. In some states, having an attorney advise you as you navigate the probate process is required.

A key point to remember is that the expert you hire to help with the administration of the estate is paid by assets of the estate. No money comes out of your pocket.


As an executor, you can hire a probate attorney to help you with specific tasks, such as preparing and filing certain documents with the probate court. Alternatively, you can also take a more comprehensive approach and let the attorney and their staff handle most if not all of your obligations as executor.

To learn more about this topic, consult a probate attorney near you.