We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Typical Executor Responsibilities?

By R. Kimball
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The person designated within a will as the party responsible for finalizing the deceased’s estate is the executor. The executor responsibilities include having the will probated, managing the estate until such time as it is liquidated, settling all debts of the estate, and distributing the estate amongst the heirs. An executor might be a family member or a professional hired specifically to manage the estate.

Completing the executor responsibilities is not an easy task. The executor has a fiduciary duty to all of the heirs to the estate to make good decisions on the estate's behalf. In cases wherein the executor is an heir of the estate, such person generally is not paid to complete the executor responsibilities. When a professional is hired to complete the duties, then that person is paid for such work.

Depending upon the complexity of the estate, the executor may hire an attorney or an accountant, or both, to complete all of the executor responsibilities. Once the will has been probated and a court certifies the executor, the work of settling the estate begins. It often is a good idea for the executor to open a bank account specifically for the estate in order to accurately document the movement of funds into and out of the estate.

The executor is responsible for finding all of the heirs to the estate. This process should begin soon after the will is probated in the event that any of the heirs are difficult to locate. Once the heirs are located, they should be notified that they stand to inherit something from the estate, but that no disbursement will occur until the executor and his or her advisers deem it possible. The disbursement of an estate might occur upon the liquidation of the entire estate or in several stages, depending upon the estate's complexity.

All taxes owed by the estate must be paid as part of the executor responsibilities as well. The executor should receive some documentation from the government stating that all taxes owed by the estate have been paid in full. Failure to acquire this documentation could be considered a breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty. Once all debts of the estate, including those due to the executor's advisers or to the executor himself, have been paid in full, the executor authorizes the final liquidation of the estate. Upon liquidation, the executor pays the heirs their shares of the estate in accordance with the will.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon305005 — On Nov 23, 2012

I received a letter stating I was an heir, and on the the bottom it asked me to sign if I would or would not participate. What does this mean?

By anon179513 — On May 24, 2011

I wonder who is liable to clear up the mess if an executor wrongly identifies an heir and makes payment before the fact is discovered? (David, UK)

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.