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What are an executor’s responsibilities during probate?

by | Jun 16, 2022 | Probate

The main purpose of a will is to ensure that property is passed on to the people the deceased wants to have it after they pass away. When people are drafting their wills, their focus is usually on that issue. Another important part of a will that people should think about carefully is appointing the executor.

The executor plays a very important role in ensuring the property actually goes to the intended beneficiaries. Without a person to facilitate the transfer of the property, carrying out a will becomes much more complicated.

When fulfilling their responsibility to the estate, executors of wills have certain duties.

Responsibilities of executors

First, the executors need to protect the decedent’s assets after their death. They need to begin to ensure that all property, both real and personal, is not dissipated in any way and protected for the beneficiaries.

They are also responsible for starting the probate process with the court by completing and filing the probate petition with the Surrogate’s Court. They will then begin an inventory of all of the decedent’s property. This inventory must be completed and submitted to the court nine months after the petition is approved. An executor may also need to file tax documents for the deceased and estate.

The executor then must gather all of the property and open a bank account just for the estate’s funds. There should be no other funds in that account. The executor will then prepare an accounting to show the beneficiaries everything that was done with the decedent’s assets prior to making distributions to those beneficiaries named in the will.  Executors should obtain a release from the beneficiaries stating they received their portion of the estate. Once everything is distributed the executor files closing documents with the court indicating the property has been distributed and the estate should be closed.

Executors of wills in New York have important and sometimes complicated jobs. It is important to choose a person who is trusted and capable of performing those responsibilities and upholding their duties to the beneficiaries. The executors must fulfill the duties properly and they may need to utilize the help of other professionals to gather property, value it and distribute it properly. Experienced attorneys understand the executor’s duties and will be able to provide counsel for the proper discharge of those duties.