Rights & Duties of Executor in Illinois Wills

By Mike Broemmel
An executor, a last will, testament

Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com

Illinois laws establish the rights and duties of an executor of a will in the state. The executor is the individual nominated in a person's will to oversee the affairs of the will writer's estate when she dies. Although nominated as the executor in a last will and testament, the executor's appointment to act on behalf of the estate must be approved by the probate court, according to Illinois law.

Fiduciary Duty

All the responsibilities of an executor of a will in Illinois arise out of her fiduciary duties to the estate. The executor's fiduciary duty to an estate means she must exercise reasonable care in dealing with the affairs of the estate. Additionally, the fiduciary duty requires the executor to maintain complete loyalty to the estate. The executor cannot make decisions that benefit her to the expense of the estate. She cannot abuse her position with the estate to enrich herself.

A violation of an executor's fiduciary duties results in the imposition of a variety of penalties, according to the provisions of Illinois probate law. For example, a violation of an executor's duties will result in her removal from her role with the estate. If the violation is particularly serious, an executor faces fines and even criminal prosecution.

Compensation

A right of an executor pursuant to Illinois probate law is to obtain reasonable compensation for her services. An executor does not have to spend time managing the affairs of an estate without payment for her time.

When a will is admitted to probate and the executor is officially appointed by the court, the judge sets the parameters for payments to the executor for her services. Typically, the judge establishes how much the executor is paid per hour.

Illinois law does not allow an executor to initiate payments to herself without specific approval of the court. Although the court approves the rate of payment at the start of the case, each time the executor desires to make a payment to compensate for her time, she must obtain an order from the judge approving the specific payment.

Unauthorized payments can result in the removal of the executor from service to the state, according to Illinois probate law.

Distribution of Assets

A primary responsibility of an executor of an estate in Illinois is properly distributing the bequests of the will to the designated heirs. The executor initially takes an inventory of all the assets of the estate. He then safeguards the assets to ensure that they are not damaged or lost before they are transferred to the appropriate heir.

The executor is not permitted to deviate from the wishes of the decedent as stated in the will. If an heir named in the will predeceases the decedent, a particular bequest necessarily goes to another person. However, the executor must obtain the judge's approval to officially make such an alteration.

About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.

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