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Responsibilities of an Executor of an Estate

By Matt Rose, CFP®, Financial Advisor / Retirement Plan Consultant

Clients often come to us with questions on estate planning. We at MCF are here as a guide and resource to help you navigate the decisions you must make while drawing up your estate plan. One decision you must make during the estate planning process is choosing an executor.  Someone you trust to ensure your wishes are carried out. Let’s walk through what being an executor involves.

Being appointed as an executor of an estate is both a significant responsibility and a position of trust. An executor of an estate is appointed to administer the last will of a deceased person and carry out the directions to manage the affairs. This role involves several key responsibilities that require careful attention to detail and adherence to legal and ethical standards.

To start, an executor is responsible for initiating the probate process. Probate is the legal determination of the distribution of a decedent’s assets. The executor must file the will with the appropriate court, identify all assets and debts of the deceased, and notify both beneficiaries and creditors.

The executor must manage the financial affairs of the estate wisely. This includes paying debts and taxes owed by the deceased, ensuring all expenses related to estate administration are properly accounted for, and safeguarding assets. These assets can include investments like stocks or bonds, real estate, collectibles and more. The executor may need to seek professional advice from lawyers or financial advisors to handle these matters appropriately.

The distribution of assets must be facilitated by the executor in a transparent and fair manner. Communication plays a very important role in the executor’s responsibilities as they must keep beneficiaries informed and respond to their inquiries. Clear and timely communication reduces the likelihood of disputes among beneficiaries, which can arise due to misunderstandings or delays in the entire process.

Executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. The executor must prioritize the beneficiaries’ interests over personal interests and help settle the estate in accordance with the law and the decedent’s wishes. Executors can be held personally liable for any losses incurred due to negligence or misconduct.

Serving as an executor is a complex role that requires communication abilities, emotional intelligence, financial acumen and organizational skills. While it can be a challenging and time-consuming role, fulfilling executor duties is essential to preserving the legacy of the deceased and supporting their loved ones during a difficult time.  

We at MCF are here to help you through the estate planning process.  We want to be your partner as you make these decisions to help ensure your family will be taken care of. Please reach out to any member of our Team to discuss your estate planning needs.

1 Investopedia  “What is an Executor?” 

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