OLD - Estate Planning Advice

What Are the Responsibilities of the Executor of a Will?

Edited by Doug Newborn

Accepting the responsibilities of a will executor, also referred to as a personal representative, is a significant undertaking than most people realize. Thus, it’s essential to think about the role’s duties before you agree to take it.

When you are chosen to be an executor of a will, you face a set of duties to carry out the wishes of the person who wrote that legal document.

Accepting the responsibilities of a will executor, also referred to as a personal representative, is a significant undertaking than most people realize. Thus, it’s essential to think about the role’s duties before you agree to take it.

In today’s post, let’s look at the primary duties of a will executor.

If you are tapped to be an executor of a will, the following are some important points you should keep in mind before agreeing to take on the position.

The Nature of the Estate

Before accepting the role of an executor of a will, learn about the complexity of the estate first.

The responsibilities of a will executor go beyond merely reading the will to the surviving family members.

Also, there’s more to following and implementing the set of instructions about estate distribution and management laid out in the will.

A will executor represents the testator (the term for the individual who wrote the will). Representing the testator entails ensuring that all the final arrangements they wish to conduct are properly carried out.

Typically, the larger the estate (property, assets, possessions, and including the number of beneficiaries), the more complex and time-consuming it is to manage and distribute it.

For instance, several bank accounts, a house, some stocks, and all the other valuable belongings of the deceased will have different dispersal methods.

Along with these steps to distribute the estate, there will also be different kinds of challenges. Some of these challenges include preparing and submitting tax documents.

If the testator was a high-net-worth personal, it’s common to hire the services of professionals to help prepare and execute their estate plans after their passing.

Nevertheless, even smaller states with a few heirs or beneficiaries should not be overlooked. These situations have the potential to be challenging if an interested party decides to contest the will.

If you’re selected as an executor of a will, ask for a copy of the document (or even just a draft of it) to see what preparations you may need to do and challenges you may be looking at – should you accept the role.

If you see any issues on the will – whether it’s unfair distribution of wealth to the beneficiaries or whatever point that doesn’t sit well with you – you should consider declining the offer.


An executor will need to commit their time, energy, and resources to meet the position’s demands. If you are executing a will, you need to pay special attention to all the details surrounding the proceeding.

Being named executor of a will is a serious responsibility.

Before accepting the role of a will executor, you should make sure that you can set aside the needed commitment to do the job.

If you have a busy life – both professionally and personally, it might be better to turn down the offer.

Another important consideration is your proximity to the testator and the estate.

If you are out of state or don’t live close by, remember that you may need to continually travel the testator’s home to handle jurisdiction-related paperwork and other items.

Naturally, you can raise your concerns while the testator is still alive. If you wish to be removed or added as the will executor, the testator can do the steps necessary.

However, if the testator has died, you also lose the opportunity to appoint another person to execute the will. Thus, it’s essential to make your decision and assess your situation as soon as you receive the offer.

Final Word

Executing a will means that another person trusted you to carry out their wishes after they passed. While it’s an honor to be a will executor, the role comes with several significant responsibilities.

Ask yourself if you are ready to take on the role before accepting it. If you’re not, express your concerns so other measures can be taken.

As you decide whether to accept the position, take the person’s estate’s complexity into account. It’s also important to consider if you will have the time to handle the immediate duties the role calls for.

On top of the immediate responsibilities, it goes without saying that you will need to complete a multitude of responsibilities when the testator dies.

If you have been appointed as an executor of a will and you have some important estate-related questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm. We’ll be happy to discuss them with you.

About the author

Doug Newborn

Doug understands how to manage multiple areas of the law while bringing efficiency and a unique personal touch. In other words, you won’t be our only client, but our goal is to make you feel like you’re our only client.

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