The roles and responsibilities of an executor

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The Roles And Responsibilities Of An Executor

When creating an estate plan, individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere need to make some difficult decisions. While this often means considering what will happen with one’s property and assets after his or her death, it also requires one to name an individual to manage the process. The estate administration process is handled by an executor; thus, it is vital that one considers what this role entails when naming an executor to handle his or her financial affairs following their death.

What is an executor?

In simple terms, an executor is tasked with the responsibility of wrapping up the financial affairs of a decedent. When an individual creates a will, he or she will likely name a close relative or friend to act as an executor; however, in some cases, one will name an accountant, attorney or a financial institution to serve as an executor. It is possible to have more than one executor, such as naming more than one child to serve this role. In which case, they would be co-executors.

When an individual is acting as an executor, they have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate. This remains true even if one is also an heir to the estate. He or she must have integrity and good judgment.

Roles and responsibilities

As an executor, an individual is responsible for carrying out the wishes memorialized by the deceased in his or her will. This includes, among other tasks, distributing assets to beneficiaries, paying of creditors, issuing the notices of death and filing the decedent’s final tax return.

When performing the duties of an executor, one must always act in good faith. Nonetheless, carrying out the responsibilities of an executor may go beyond his or her abilities. In these cases, it might be necessary to hire a professional, such as an accountant or attorney, to aid with asset valuation and distribution.

It is difficult to think about what will happen after one dies; as one does not want to think about their death. However, death is inevitable and it is very likely that one will pass with property and assets. Therefore, it is imperative to consider what will happen to these belongings, and how an individual can ensure that his or her wishes are met after creating an estate plan.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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