What are the responsibilities of an executor?

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What Are The Responsibilities Of An Executor

When you are creating your estate plan, one of the first steps you must take is choosing an executor or estate administrator to manage your affairs. While managing an estate may seem straightforward, it can often require a great deal of time and effort.

Making sure to choose someone able and willing to handle this responsibility on your behalf is critical to successfully managing your affairs once you have passed away. The consequences of not choosing the right executor can be serious. Mismanagement of an estate could financially harm your beneficiaries and your executor could be held personally liable.

What are an executor’s primary duties?

The person you choose as executor will have several responsibilities relating to your estate. Some of their primary duties will likely include:

  • Locate and file the will with the probate court.
  • Locate and gather the decedent’s assets.
  • Determine asset value.
  • Set up a bank account to pay estate expenses.
  • File final income tax return on behalf of the decedent.
  • Pay off the decedent’s creditors and other debts.
  • Locate beneficiaries and distribute the remaining property.

How can an estate planning attorney help?

Your attorney can help you navigate the estate-planning process and help you choose the right person to handle your affairs. You may also choose a second person to handle your affairs if the first person is unable or unwilling to serve as executor when the time comes.

If you are an executor, an attorney can help protect you from personal liability by making sure you carry out your duties properly and in accordance with all laws.

Whether you are in the process of choosing your executor or you have already been named as an executor of your loved one’s estate, an estate planning attorney can be very beneficial.


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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