Executor Duties

Executors have a general duty to administer the deceased's estate and to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries named under the deceased’s Last Will and Testament or, in the absence of a Last Will, to the deceased’s heirs in accordance with state intestacy laws. In carrying out this duty, an Executor is obliged to act promptly and in the best interests of both the estate and the deceased's beneficiaries or, as the case may be, heirs.


An Executor will also have a number of other duties. Typical Executor duties include the following:

  1. to take possession of the deceased's property;

  2. to manage, protect and preserve the estate;

  3. to prepare an inventory of all the probatable assets and property owned by the deceased at the time of death. This inventory should be prepared within a specific time frame, usually three months. The inventory should list each item of property together with its market value at the date of death of the deceased, as well as set out details of any encumbrances registered against the asset in question. Where market valuations have been carried out, details of the valuation agent used should also be included;

  4. to publish a creditor’s notice in a newspaper circulating in the county in which probate is filed once a week for three successive weeks. The notice should stipulate that the deceased has died, provide details of your appointment as executor and state that creditors of the deceased’s estate can present details of any claims they might have against the estate for a period of three months following the date of first publication. Once this period of time expires, creditors will no longer be able to take a claim against the estate;

  5. to decide which creditors' claims should be allowed and which should be disallowed; and

  6. to pay allowed creditors' claims in the following order:

    - funeral expenses;

    - costs and expenses associated with the administration of the estate;

    - federal debts and taxes owed by the estate;

    - medical expenses associated with the final illness of the deceased;

    - state debts and taxes owed by the estate; and

    - all other claims.


For more information on executor duties, read some of the other articles on executors, executor duties and probate on this website.



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Executors Guide to Probate

How To Probate An Estate - A Step-By-Step Guide for Executors


This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating acting as an executor of someone’s estate! Learn about the various stages of probate and what an executor needs to do at each stage to successfully navigate his way through to closing the estate and distributing the deceased’s assets.

Published December 2010

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