What Is an Executor Deed?

Close-up of man's hands signing house deeds with pen
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An executor’s deed is used to transfer real property from the estate of a deceased person to an heir pursuant to the terms of a will. It is similar to an administrative deed, which is used when a person dies without a will. The executor of an estate is the person appointed in the will to marshal the deceased's assets, determine what debts and liabilities need to be paid out of estate funds and ultimately distribute the assets to designated heirs or beneficiaries.

Using an Executor’s Deed

When a deceased person has had the foresight to craft an estate plan, including a will that specifically distributes real estate to named individuals, or grantees, the executor of the estate must transfer that property. The executor’s deed is the legal instrument the executor uses to complete the transfer. Completing this type of transfer is just one of the executor’s many roles and responsibilities, but a real property transfer can be one of the most important distributions from the estate of a deceased person because real estate is often the most valuable asset in an estate.

Read More: Legal Questions Regarding the Executor's Handling of the Will

Information in the Executor’s Deed

The executor of an estate must complete a number of steps when conveying property by an executor’s deed, but the first step is to make sure all of the correct information is provided on the deed. The document must be very specific, and the information to be included is mostly determined by state law. Typically, the deed must contain a precise description of the property; name of the person who will be receiving the deed; and executor’s name and signature. The deed must state that the transfer is occurring pursuant to instructions in a valid will and that transfer is being conducted by executor of the estate.

Transfer of Property

Once the deed has been drafted, it is time to actually convey the property. Most states require that a witness sign the document in addition to the executor and that the deed is notarized. The grantee does not have to be a child, spouse or other relative of the deceased as long as he is clearly named in the will as the recipient of the property.

Acceptance and Recording

A transfer of property is usually not considered complete without acceptance on the part of the grantee, the person named in the will by the deceased. But usually the grantee need not do anything specific to show acceptance of the deed. As long as the grantee indicates an intent to accept, that is enough. The grantee should record the deed in the county where the real estate is located; recording a deed to real property is the surest way to show acceptance.