Duties of an Executor


The executor of an estate is named in one's will and has many duties and responsibilities. Some of the more important tasks include:

  • Find the latest will and read it.
  • File a petition with the court to probate the will.
  • Assemble all of the decedent's assets.
  • Take possession of safe deposit box contents.
  • Consult with banks and savings and loans in the area to find all accounts of the deceased. Also check for cash and other valuables hidden around the home.
  • Transfer all securities to his or her name (as executor) and continue to collect dividends and interest on behalf of the heirs of the deceased.
  • Find, inventory and protect household and personal effects and other personal property.
  • Collect all life insurance proceeds payable to the estate.
  • Find and inventory all real estate deeds, mortgages, leases and tax information. Provide immediate management for rental properties.
  • Arrange ancillary administration for out-of-state property.
  • Collect monies owed the deceased and check interests in estates of other deceased persons.
  • Find and safeguard business interests, valuables, personal property, important papers, the residence,etc.
  • Inventory all assets and arrange for appraisal of those for which it is appropriate.
  • Determine liquidity needs. Assemble bookkeeping records. Review investment portfolio. Sell appropriate assets.
  • Pay valid claims against the estate. Reject improper claims and defend the estate, if necessary.
  • Pay state and federal taxes due.
  • File income tax returns for the decedent and the estate.
  • Determine whether the estate qualifies for special use valuation under IRC Sec. 2032A, the qualified family-owned business interest deduction under IRC Sec. 2057 or deferral of estate taxes under IRC Secs. 6161 or 6166.
  • If the surviving spouse is not a U.S. citizen, consider a qualified domestic trust to defer the payment of federal estate taxes.
  • File federal estate tax return and state death and/or inheritance tax return.
  • Prepare statement of all receipts and disbursements. Pay attorney's fees and executor's commissions. Assist the attorney in defending the estate, if necessary.
  • Distribute specific bequests and the residue; obtain tax releases and receipts as directed by the court. Establish a testamentary trust (or pour over into a living trust), where appropriate.