What Role does the Executor Play in Probate?

What Role does the Executor Play in Probate?
Mick Grant
Mick Grant

Founder and Writer

The executor has an important role to play in the probate procedure. First of all, he or she is the person responsible for implementing the wishes of the departed as provided in their will. 

Therefore, it would not be incorrect to say that executors are legal representatives of the testator or the deceased. They have the authority to dispose of the deceased’s assets according to the last testament or will.

But before understanding the role of an executor, it is important to get an idea of who can actually do justice to this significant role.

Who Can Serve as an Executor during Probate?

This is an important question when it comes to choosing the ideal executor who can operate while the probate goes on. To be very specific, almost any individual can serve as an executor. In the majority of the cases, the executor is either the individual benefitting from the estate assets or one of the nominees. The executor can also be any third person, specifically if there is any dispute arising during the probate procedure.

This can be a person who the deceased or the testator trusts. They should involve the management willingly. Then, they distribute the deceased’s estate over to either the nominees or heirs.

The Necessity of an Executor

The last testament of the deceased with instructions of disposing of the assets according to their wishes is one of the most crucial documents. Therefore, such documents require a representative to see through them until all departed intentions are carried out accordingly.

Most of the time, testators either neglect or forget to appoint estate executors. This is not the best approach because a wrong individual might take up the executor’s role. This will be any one of the beneficiaries or the nominees.

If this happens, the estate is not managed and distributed according to the deceased’s intentions, which can further result in major problems. It is completely the testator’s jurisdiction to choose the executor for their estate.

The Exact Role of an Executor in Probate

Being assigned as an executor for the estate of a loved one can be overwhelming. The individuals who take up this role need to act and serve responsibly while being thoroughly communicative.

If the executor fails to do justice to his or her role, this can hurt the beneficiaries while having personal consequences at the same time. It is not necessary for an individual to get very far off in understanding the responsibilities of an executor.

A number of data is accessible on this subject. But things can get really confusing with such a lot of information available. Thankfully, the executors of an estate do not need to work through the entire probate procedure alone.

These individuals or personal representatives have the freedom to see help from legal counselors or lawyers for ensuring they fulfill their role properly. Taking the help of a probate lawyer is important for the executor to ensure that the estate is managed and distributed according to the decedent’s last wishes.

The executor’s role also becomes important if the testator dies intestate- this means without leaving a will. In that case, the estate must manage and dole out the estate according to the state laws.

Important Responsibilities of the Executor

Before the estate of the deceased’s is divided or distributed among the beneficiaries, it is necessary for the estate executor to:

  • Get a copy of the estate will or the last testament of the deceased.
  • File petition for probate.
  • Inventory all assets.
  • Send notifications to the creditors and the beneficiaries.
  • Clear all applicable claims, if any, of the estate.
  • Pay all the legal charges.
  • File full and ultimate income tax returns for the decedent
  • Pay estate taxes.

The above-detailed list is just a condensed data of the roles and the responsibilities of an executor. More might be needed for this personal representative. However, the increase or the decrease in the services of the executor will completely depend on the complexity and the size of the departed’s estate.


When drafting a will, it is important for the testator to understand the importance of an executor. They must understand that the executor is probably the most crucial individual in the execution of their last testament. Therefore, only a third individual, the one who is both neutral and individual, should be given this responsibility. Suppose the testator leaves behind a will without nominating the executor. It is the probate court that appoints this representative. In both cases, it is necessary for the executor to be reliable and sincere.

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