What Is the Role of an Executor?

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An executor is named in a will or chosen by the courts to distribute assets for the deceased. Learn what the role of an executor is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

So what does an executor do? An executor is somebody that you have picked in your will to take your assets and distribute them to those, the people that you love, the people that you want to get them after you've passed away. There are two types of executors. If you have a will, that person is in fact called an executor, and there's an old legal term that applied to women executors that was called an executrix. It's not used very often. If somebody passes away and they don't have a will, then the person who takes care of their estate is typically called an administrator. Either way, they take your assets and they do a couple things with them. First, they read the will, if there is one, and have the court bless the will. Once the court blesses the will and says yes, it's a legally enforceable will, then you become the official executor of the estate. Again, if somebody passes away without a will, then the court looks at the estate and appoints somebody and blesses them as the administrator of the estate. The executor and administrator really do two things. First, they make sure the bills are paid. The primary job of an executor or an administrator is to make sure that taxes are paid, and the debts of the deceased are paid. First and foremost. Not give it to the heirs. We'll get to them. But they only get what's left after the taxes are paid, the debts are paid, frankly the administrative fees are paid--that means the lawyer fees, that means the executor fees. Then what's left the executor's job, the administrator's job, is to take those assets and give them to the people who were entitled to them in the way they're supposed to get them, and in the proportion they're supposed to get them.


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