What Does Executor of Estate Mean? A Comprehensive Guide

When a person passes away, the court appoints an executor or administrator to manage their estate. Learn what an executor does and how to appoint one.

What Does Executor of Estate Mean? A Comprehensive Guide

When a person passes away, the court appoints an executor or administrator to manage the deceased's estate. This individual is responsible for collecting the assets, paying off debts and expenses, and distributing the remaining estate to the beneficiaries. In this article, we'll explain what an executor of an estate is, their duties, and how to go about appointing one. An executor of an estate is a person appointed by the court or the testator (the person making the will) to administer the last will of a deceased person.

The primary duty of the executor is to carry out the instructions in the will and manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased. When making a will, it's important to name someone to act as your executor. This individual will be in charge of your estate after your death and will be responsible for pooling your assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing your assets according to the terms of your will. An executor is also known as a personal representative in some states.

They are designated by the deceased person (the “testator”) in a will to administer that person's estate as indicated in the will. The executor's duties include settling the estate's debts, selling ownership of the estate if necessary, and distributing the assets to the heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the will. The executor can hire professionals at the expense of the estate to help with liquidating it. Courts allow reasonable compensation to the executor, usually a small percentage of the estate's assets.

If there is more debt than assets in an estate, then state law determines how debts should be prioritized. If you have a will, you can appoint an executor who will carry out its terms and ensure that all other matters are resolved after your death. The executor can be almost anyone, but they are generally an attorney, accountant, or family member who is 18 years old or older and has no prior felony convictions. The executor also has the right to challenge a will if they can prove that a beneficiary obtained their inheritance through subterfuge, undue influence, or embezzlement.

A removal petition can be filed if it is alleged that an executor is unfit due to negligence, misconduct, or incapacity. The court won't release an executor unless doing so won't harm any beneficiaries of the will. An executor manages and protects estate assets, pays debts and taxes, and transfers assets to heirs (persons entitled to collect an inheritance or asset). Only a court can issue letters of administration or letters that give someone authority over a deceased person's assets.

If you've been nominated as an executor of probate in California but don't think you have enough time or ability to fulfill your obligations, you can petition for removal.

Kathy Broadbent
Kathy Broadbent

Award-winning pop culture guru. Avid bacon maven. Unapologetic internet evangelist. Total internet geek. Devoted food buff.

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