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On the role of an executor and estate plans

When someone creates their estate plan, the role of executor is one of the most important issues that needs to be decided. The executor of an estate is in charge of ensuring that a person's last wishes are fulfilled as per the will, and that the estate is properly organized and handled. As such, it is a stressful responsibility that an executor takes on, but it can be fulfilling one.

It is not a requirement for the executor of an estate to be an attorney or a financial professional. However, the executor must act in good faith and uphold their fiduciary duty as the executor of an estate. If the executor fails in these simple but important responsibilities, they could be removed from their position and even held liable in civil or criminal court.

There are also many duties that must be performed by the executor, such as:

  • Finding the people who are named in the will.
  • Finding and collecting the assets in the estate so they can be properly distributed.
  • Deciding if probate court is prudent.
  • Acting on any final issues or affairs that need to be handled on behalf of the grantor.
  • Settling any final financial issues, taxes or debts.

All of these responsibilities must be handled with care. If an executor is careless or irresponsible, he or she puts the entire estate at risk. If you are putting your estate plan together and are considering an executor, consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "What Does an Executor Do?," Accessed May 11, 2017

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