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What Is a Executor? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A person or institution named in a will and appointed by the court to oversee and manage an estate, including the distribution of assets and satisfaction of creditors and taxes.

What does an estate executor do?

An executor has many responsibilities to fulfill right from the point of the decedent’s death till when the estate will be closed out. Once all assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, the executor or administrator gets paid a certain commission and their services are done. An executor is saddled with a lot of responsibilities which include:

  • Filing and registering the death which takes a few days to some weeks depending on the location. This is done by taking the medical certificate issued from the hospital to the nearest registry to obtain the certificate for burial or cremation.
  • Arranging the funeral is also an important responsibility of the executor. They find out the costs and release them and also ensure all decedent’s funeral instructions are followed. The instructions can be found in the will if there is one or could be passed down from the decedent’s family.
  • Sorting out the inheritance tax to be able to assess the estate. The executor is responsible for acquiring the forms, filling them, and paying the dues attached to them. This could take a while to be completed based on the estate. The inheritance tax is calculated based on the valuation of the estate’s assets and liabilities so the executor needs to employ the services of a reliable valuation company and also see if some tax can be exempted.
  • Locating the will and authenticating it by applying for the probate at the probate court or registry or the forms can be gotten online if you possess the original will, decedent’s death certificate, and clearance from the tax management.
  • Dealing with all the decedent’s financial obligations such as income tax, capital gains, and settlement of inheritance tax.
  • Advertising the decedent’s estates notice in the local newspaper so all creditors whom the executor is not aware of can come forward. This absolves the executor of future financial burdens and they wait for about 6-9 months after the advertisement for all liabilities to be presented before distributing the estate.
  • Distributing the estate to all beneficiaries. Executors reach out to the beneficiaries to deliberate on the form with which they wish to receive their assets either in the original form or liquidated.
  • Providing estate accounting and full records of all assets remaining after distributing them according to the will or state laws. The probate court and beneficiaries would approve the account depending on the type of account agreed to be used by the beneficiaries and executor.

Who is usually an executor?

Many people choose to appoint family members or close friends as their executors. However, if you have a complex estate or are concerned about potential family conflicts, consider appointing an estates professional, like a lawyer or a trust company.

Different terms for executors

The executor of a probate matter is referred to as a “personal representative” under florida law and in other states. The term executor is also used interchangeably with executrix, administrator, and administratrix.” The personal representative has a legal duty to administer the probate estate.

WHO SUPERVISES THE PROBATE ADMINISTRATION?

The appointed circuit court judge presides over probate proceedings and the executor is responsible for answering to them as well as the other beneficiaries of the estate. The judge will review submissions from the executor as evidence to confirm the beneficiaries’ identities or decedent’s heirs as those who will receive the decedent’s probate estate.

Executor liability

Being the executor of a probated estate is a serious responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The executor is not liable for debts owed by the estate but does have a responsibility to make sure that timely payment is made and also follow the state laws and guidelines. An executor does have the ability to withdraw money from an estate account but in order for the probate to be closed, beneficiaries are able to request a full accounting of the estate.

Executors are not able to change a will

Executors are not able to change a final will and testament. In fact the role of the executor is to follow the wishes of the will to the best of his or her ability within the probate court laws and guidelines.

Executor Advance

Executors are able to receive a cash advance on behalf of a probated estate if the estate or beneficiaries need money. Executor cash advances on probate are common.

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