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I'm the executor of an estate: What does that mean?

When a loved one passes away, there can be a lot more to deal with than people initially realize. Beyond the emotional toll a loss takes on people, which can be overwhelming, there are also numerous financial and legal details to address.

If you are the executor or administrator of a person's estate, you will be tasked with the majority of this work. You are the person who will manage the probate process and follow through with your loved one's wishes, among other duties.

Your responsibilities

More specifically, as an executor, your main responsibilities will include:

  • Locating the will
  • Applying for probate (if necessary)
  • Finding and notifying next-of-kin and beneficiaries
  • Locating the assets and properties named in a will
  • Protecting the deceased's property until distribution
  • Paying bills and debts
  • Keeping track of your administrative actions
  • Notifying interested parties, like banks and landlords, of the passing
  • Securing property appraisals
  • Arranging and paying for a funeral
  • Distributing property 

Possible challenges

With so much on the shoulders of the executor, it is not uncommon for challenges to arise. This might be mistakes or missteps on the part of the executor, or doubts about the executor's capabilities and decisions by interested parties. These issues could delay the estate administration process or possibly result in requests for a new administrator.

Considering the challenges that may arise, it is important for a person named as an executor to understand that they can consult a lawyer as they navigate this process. This legal guidance and perspective can help to avoid or more easily resolve conflict.

If you are the person creating a will, it can be wise to consider all that an executor or administrator will do before assigning one. Knowing all that this person will do and manage can help you make informed decisions on who may be best suited for the role.

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