The Duties of a Will or Trust Executor

By Robert Holmes
The duties of an executor are extensive and complex.
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The duties of a will or trust executor are quite extensive and can be very time consuming. As an executor you are responsible for the administration and protection of the trustee's estate as well as the eventual distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Executors are legally responsible to fulfill the wishes of the trustee set forth in the will or trust, and if these duties are not handled accordingly, the executor can be held legally accountable by the beneficiaries.

Collection and Appraisal of Assets

An executor will need to take inventory of all assets and have them appraised to gain an overall understanding of the value of the estate. The executor must transfer all assets to an estate account. The executor will collect assets such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, securities, automobiles, household items, real estate and any other valuable items to be distributed. The executor must also cancel credit cards, insurance and other subscriptions. Once all items are collected, the executor develops a full valuation of assets and determines any benefits that may be due because of insurance policies or pension plans. This will allow the executor to prepare an accurate inventory of assets and liabilities.

Administration and Tax Responsibilities

The executor is responsible for locating the will and filing it with the Probate Court and publishing a legal Notice of Hearings in the newspaper. All claims, including final medical expenses, and debts need to be settled and loans, mortgages or other liabilities need to be discharged. There are also tax issues that will need to be addressed by the executor including determining capital gains at time of death, determining any applicable deductions and preparing final income and estate tax returns.

Duties to Beneficiaries

After all the estate assets are accounted for, the executor will prepare a Plan of Division and Cash Accounting to divide the estate. The executor is in charge of notifying all heirs and next of kin of their interest in the estate and arranges for the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries after the estate settlement. An executor is also responsible for making sure all funeral arrangements are taken care of according to the desires of the deceased. Finally, an executor files a Report of Final Distributions and petitions the court for a discharge as executor.

About the Author

Robert Holmes has been a writer since 2000, having stories published in "FrontPage Milwaukee" and "The Reporter," among others. Holmes has Bachelors of Arts in history and journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as Web writing content certification from Clemson University.