You’ve been appointed as executor. What does that mean?

You might feel like other Minnesota residents whose loved ones want them to serve as executors of their estates. You appreciate the trust and honor, but don’t know what duties the law and the court require you to perform when the time comes. Hopefully, your loved one asked you if you would like to serve in this capacity before putting it in writing.

It might help you make your decision to have at least a rudimentary understanding of what an executor does. If you weren’t given the chance to make the choice, but you still agreed to serve after the death of the loved one who appointed you, the information below will provide you with an outline of your duties.

Executor’s primary function

Put simply, an executor carries out the decedent’s wishes as outlined in his or her Last Will and Testament. To that end, you must fulfill the following functions:

  • Pay decedent’s debts and creditors
  • Distribute property to heirs and beneficiaries as instructed in the will

In fulfilling these duties, you must act honestly, diligently and in good faith. Of course, the process isn’t that simple.

Executor’s specific duties

Every estate is unique, but many commonalities exist in the duties required of an executor. For instance, you will more than likely need to do the following:

  • Locate all assets of the deceased
  • Safeguard all assets of the deceased
  • Manage the assets during probate
  • Continue necessary payments on assets
  • Determine the necessity of probate
  • Locate heirs and beneficiaries
  • Notify all relevant parties of the decedent’s death
  • Wrap up decedent’s affairs
  • Set up an estate bank account
  • Pay any final income taxes

After completing these tasks and handling any other issues unique to the estate of your loved one, you may distribute the property of the estate. The court will then close the probate and release you from your obligations to the estate.

You could need help

Completing these tasks on your own could prove challenging. Even if you could take care of these issues on your own, you never know what other issues could arise. Someone could contest the will or a creditor could file a claim. You could also need assistance with legally transferring certain assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Fortunately, the law does not require you to handle your duties without the benefit of an attorney to help you take care of the court’s filing requirements.