What is an Executor of a Will?

Though we’ve all heard the term, the majority of us have probably never appointed an Executor, or been an Executor for somebody else. Therefore you may be wondering, “What exactly does an Executor do?” and “What’s this Probate thing all about?” 


If you die owning property of value, it is necessary to appoint someone to “settle” or wind up your estate in accordance with the terms of your Last Will and Testament. Your Last Will should nominate a person known as an Executor, or Personal Representative, to carry out this role. If you have not made a valid Last Will or where there is a partial intestacy this person will be appointed by the Probate Court and will be known as the Administrator of your estate. 


Your Executor can be a person (or persons) such as a relative, beneficiary under your Last Will, a lawyer or even a bank - the choice is yours. It is also possible to appoint one or more Executors under your Last Will. Where more than one Executor is appointed, these Co-Executors can act separately (each one with full authority) or they can be required to act jointly in which case both (or all if there is more than two) executors must agree to a course of action before taking that action.


Upon your death, your Executor will have the legal and fiduciary duty to handle, safeguard and distribute your property in accordance with the terms of your Last Will. In addition, the Executor will also be responsible for the payment of any debts or taxes owing by you at the date of your death. These debts and taxes, if any, will be paid from the estate (using the assets of the estate) before the distribution of the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries named under your will takes place.


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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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Executors Who can be an Executor of a Will?


Executors Choosing an Executor


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Executors General Duties of an Executor


Executors Payment of Compensation to Executors



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