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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

The important duties of an executor during probate

Updated: Sep 27

When someone dies with a will in New York, the estate goes through probate. This is a legal process that validates the will and distributes the assets named in the will.

However, probate is not a quick process, and the person in charge of managing the decedent’s estate is the executor. This person has numerous important roles, and it is important to choose the right one for proper estate administration.

Duties of an executor

According to the New York Courts, the first job of the executor is to file the will, certified death certificate and probate petition with the court. The executor must identify and locate the named heirs and beneficiaries and inform them of the probate proceeding.

Some of the additional duties of the executor include:

  1. Locate, value and safeguard the assets of the estate

  2. Maintain upkeep of the decedent’s property, collect mail, close accounts and cancel credit cards

  3. Perform due diligence to find and inform potential creditors of the decedent’s death and pay valid claims

  4. Pay bills of the estate and collect any debt owed to the estate

  5. Sell property of the estate to pay debts and bills, if necessary

  6. File and pay estate taxes

Once the executor pays all debts of the estate, he or she can distribute the remaining assets to the heirs. The probate process can take months or even years to complete.

Qualities to look for in an executor

Because the role of the executor is a major one, it is important to choose the right individual for the job. CNBC discusses that important qualities to look for include organizational skills and trustworthiness. It helps if the person has the time to perform the duties and lives close. Having a financial background is helpful, but it is not necessary. An executor can choose to hire professionals to help with certain aspects of the probate process. In return for the work, an executor generally collects a compensation fee upon the closing of the estate.

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