You may be planning your estate or you may have been a named executor of someone’s estate. Either way, you likely have questions about what an executor is and what their responsibilities are. The following is intended to be a brief overview of what an executor is and what an executor’s responsibilities are. If you are planning your estate or are a named executor of an estate, contact an estate planning attorney or probate attorney for advice concerning your particular circumstances.
An executor is a person nominated in a will to service as the personal representative of a decedent’s estate. An executor may also be appointed by the court if an executor has not been nominated or the person(s) who have been appointed are unwilling or unable to serve as executor. An executor serves in a fiduciary capacity.
The role of an executor does not start until a person dies or a person is appointed as the executor of an estate by the court. Some estates do not require probate proceedings, therefore, an executor would not be appointed by the court unless special circumstances required the appointment of an executor. Generally, estates valued at $150,000 or less do not require probate proceedings in order to settle the estate. There are circumstances in which there must be court involvement such as when the decedent has an ownership interest in real property valued at less than $150,000.
An executor is responsible for marshalling the assets of the decedent, satisfying valid creditors claims, and distributing the estate according to the will or intestate succession. An executor may be entitled to a fee, payable by the estate, for serving as executor. The fee may be waived by an executor. It may be more beneficial to an executor to waive the fee as the fee is considered income whereas inheriting money may not be taxable depending on the value of the estate.
If you have further questions about planning your estate, what an executor is, or what an executor’s duties are, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced probate or estate planning attorney that is licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.