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What is an Executor?

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What is an Executor?

With regards to an estate, an executor is a person who is entrusted with the task of managing and overseeing a person’s estate.  The executor usually assumes this responsibility upon the death of the estate holder, or if the estate holder becomes incapacitated in any way.  Executors can be appointed through a will document, and for other types of arrangements, such as a trust. 

The estate executor chosen should be a trustworthy person, who is capable of managing property, bank account assets, and possible distributions of such items.  This is a major task that requires attention to detail as well as honesty and some knowledge of business standards. 

What Does an Executor Do?

The duties of the executor may be specifically listed in an estate planning document.  As such, they can vary depending on the needs of each individual estate holder.  Some typical tasks that the estate holder is entitled to may include:

  • Overseeing the estate holder’s property and assets after their death
  • Dealing with outstanding debt or taxes on the property
  • Managing distributions of the property
  • Dealing with any issues or concerns brought up by beneficiaries (recipients of the property)
  • Creating an estate account, which is used during the process of managing the estate property
  • Consulting with the court for any legal issues, including estate disputes

Thus, an executor’s responsibilities can either be very broad or very specific.  If an issue is too technical for the executor, they may wish to enlist the services of a professional (such as an accountant or a lawyer).

How are Disputes With Executors Handled?

Disputes between the estate holder and the executor are usually handled by reviewing the estate documents.  These should state the executor’s duties and responsibilities, as well as the scope of their authority.  A judge can provide clarification in order to determine whether the executor has breached their duties.  If so, removal of the executor may be recommended. 

Disputes between executors and other parties, such as a beneficiary, may be more complicated.  Both the executor and the beneficiary may be asserting that they have specific rights which are in dispute.  Such conflicts may result in the judge ordering specific instructions with regards to the distribution of an item or items. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Executor Issues?

Executor duties and responsibilities can often be quite expansive and comprehensive.  You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need any assistance at all with any estate executor issues.  Your attorney will be able to provide you with legal guidance on your issue.  Also, if you need to file a lawsuit over an estate dispute, your attorney can assist you with the process. 

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 08-25-2014 04:23 PM PDT

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