Not everyone is cut out to be an executor

As we’ve noted in previous blogs, decisions related to estate planning are highly personal and should only be made after taking numerous factors into consideration. When considering your estate plan, making the decision of who to appoint as the executor of your estate is one of the most important decisions you need to make.

In a nutshell, an executor is responsible for ensuring that, per an individual’s last will and testament, his or her “last wishes are granted with regard to the disposition of… property and possessions.” In addition to ensuring that the directives outlined in a person’s will are followed and assets and possessions distributed accordingly, an executor must also settle matters related to any outstanding taxes and debts.

Legally, an executor must fulfill his or her role “with the utmost honest and diligence” or by acting in a fiduciary duty. While many consider being named an executor a great honor, the responsibilities that come with the job can be challenging, tedious and time consuming. For these reasons, it’s important that the testator or testatrix is certain of his or her choice when naming an executor and that the named executor understands the responsibilities that are inherent to the role.

The following are included among an executor’s duties:

  • Discovering, managing and dispersing assets
  • Paying outstanding debts and taxes
  • Distributing property as per a will’s directives
  • Wrapping up all financial matters related to the decedent and estate
  • Sorting out life insurance matters
  • Collecting and distributing personal effects as per a will
  • File income and estate taxes for decedent

Due to the nature of the executor’s role, an individual who is trying to decide who to name as the executor of an estate should seek out someone with the following qualities and personal attributes.

  • Organized
  • Honest
  • Meticulous
  • Able to follow through
  • Good with finances
  • Knowledge of and experience with estate planning

Source:, “Checklist: The Executor’s Role,” Jan. 21, 2016, “What Does an Executor Do?,” Jan. 21, 2016

Additional resources provided by the author


For more information, please contact estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
Phone: 917-261-4514
Or visit her at her new location:
80 Maiden Lane
Suite 304
New York, NY 10038

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This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

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