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What Does an Executor Do?

what does an executor do?
What does an executor do? Typically the things listed below, though not necessarily in this order:

  • Hire an estate attorney and follow their advise
  • File the petition and supporting documents to get confirmed as the executor by the probate court
  • Coordinate with the estate attorney on court hearings and filing documents with the court
  • Officially notify interested parties through a citation or notice of probate
  • Get appointed (confirmed) by the court as the acting executor
  • Take inventory of assets, including personal and real property
  • Create an estate bank account and obtain an estate tax id
  • Locate and marshal (collect and identify) the assets of the estate
  • Manage the estate assets including bank accounts, stock, bonds, retirement accounts, pensions
  • Pay or decline the decedent’s debts
  • Pay creditors and other claims including funeral expenses and any estate taxes that may be due out of estate assets
  • Pay legal fees of the estate
  • Prudently manage the investment of assets in the interim
  • Sell personal and real property or distribute to beneficiaries in accordance with the will
  • Distribute assets
  • Contact an employer to find out about the testator’s employee benefits
  • Manage the testator’s business
  • Submit an accounting to the court and beneficiaries
  • Communicate with the beneficiaries on a regular basis to keep them informed of important financial matters
  • Resolve disputes that may arise between beneficiaries
  • Get signed releases from beneficiaries before disbursing any funds
  • Wind up and settle the estate
  • Get discharged as executor

The executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes and intent of the testator (the person who made the will) and must do so by acting in good faith and by carrying out the wishes of the testator, representing the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times during the probate administration of the estate and winding up and closing of an estate.

When choosing a New York executor, the testator should keep in mind qualities such as experience, ability to handle and manage business matters, competency and availability.  The testator may appoint a spouse, another family member, friend, attorney or any other person over the age of 18 years of age to act as the executor. It is also common for a testator to appoint a co-executor or successor as well.

A New York executor can initiate the filing of a Probate proceeding with the New York Surrogate’s Court by filing the original will and death certificate with the court and is responsible for obtaining and filing any other necessary documentation that the Court may require.

There are all sorts of contractual or legal matters that may require a New York executor’s attention. For instance, if the testator owned commercial property and had tenants, the executor may have to collect rents, work with a property management company or hire one depending on the size of the building and the number of tenants. What does an executor do? The executor may have to work with attorneys and accountants in order to make sure assets are properly valued and contractual obligations are completed.

In New York, an executor is entitled to receive compensation for his or her services in accordance with New York Laws. When a spouse or a family member acts as executor, many times they do not take compensation for their services, especially when they are also a beneficiary receiving a distribution of assets under the will.

An executor is held a higher standard of behavior and is expected to act in an honest, fair and ethical manner. If a New York executor breaches their fiduciary duty, the executor could be held legally liable for any losses suffered by the estate or beneficiaries. An executor in New York can be removed by the beneficiaries for breach of fiduciary duty and could be subject to restitution of any financial losses to the estate and beneficiaries, as well as face criminal charges if the executor committed any crimes such as embezzlement of estate assets.

Acting an executor is a big responsibility, especially if an estate is large and has substantial assets. That is why some spouses or family members decide they do not want to take on the job and end up resigning and hiring an attorney or another personal representative to replace them and administer the estate.

If you wish to speak to hire a New York estate attorney to assist you with your duties as executor, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.