What are the duties of the executor of a will?

Our readers who are familiar with the estate planning process know that there are many decisions that must be made. An individual must determine to whom assets will be left and what restrictions, if any, will be placed on the distribution of those assets. Even long-term care and powers of attorney may be important considerations during the estate planning process. Another important consideration, especially when creating a will, is who will serve as the will's executor.

The executor of a will has many duties. When looking at the broader picture, an executor assumes the legal responsibility of a deceased individual's financial affairs. The purpose of doing this is to wind down an estate. Therefore, an executor will be tasked with paying off debts, including outstanding bills and taxes, as well as distributing assets in accordance with the terms of a will. A will executor is also required to appear in court to inform a judge about the progress being made in winding down an estate.

In many instances, individuals name close family members or friends as executors of their wills. This is because they feel that they can trust one of these individuals to abide by the terms of the will and competently handle the remaining financial affairs. However, a named executor has the right to refuse to serve in the role, so it is often advisable to name alternative executors. Those who fail to do so may wind up having the court name an executor, who may be completely unknown to the family.

Considering who will serve as executor of a will is just one of the many issues estate planners need to carefully consider. By carefully developing an estate plan, individuals can better ensure that their vision for their estate will become reality, and probate can be avoided as much as possible.

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