Executor Role Overview

My wife was appointed executor of her father’s Will after his passing earlier this month. It’s a daunting role that starts immediately and lasts until all bills are paid and assets distributed. For us, there is a lot to learn, but she is approaching it as her last opportunity to honor her father’s wishes.

Here are seven key things we’ve learned that an executor of a Will needs to do:

1. Obtain a copy of the Will: The first step for an executor is to obtain a copy of the deceased person’s Will and begin the process of getting it validated. We brought my father-in-law’s Will to an estate attorney last week, after the funeral activities were over. The term ‘probate’ simply means the court’s process for validating the Will.

2. Notify relevant parties: The executor is responsible for notifying relevant parties of the person’s death, including banks, insurance companies, utilities, and creditors. We ordered 12 copies of the death certificate – it seems every organization we talked to wants one.

3. Securing assets: The executor is responsible for collecting and securing all of the estate’s property and assets. This includes physical things – cars, jewelry, coins, guns, collectibles- and financial assets. In MN, these things need to be held for 30 days before being distributed.

4. Managing the estate: everything continues during probate, including monthly utilities / bills on any properties or services. You must also start paying off any outstanding debts and filing taxes. We are collecting documents to file his 2022 income taxes. We will have to do the same next year for 2023.

5. Distributing the estate according to the person’s wishes: including any special bequests that were included in the Will. My wife’s Dad had a number of these and we even had to drive to Northern MN to collect some of them at his lake cabin.

6. Keep accurate records: The executor should keep accurate records of all financial transactions related to the estate, including expenses and payments made. This will be important for tax purposes and to ensure that the estate is distributed correctly.

7. Seek professional advice: Finally, the executor should seek professional advice from an attorney or accountant to ensure that they are fulfilling their duties properly and in accordance with the law. There are a lot of details – especially with the filing of the Will & transfer of real estate – that require legal help.

We’re new at this, but the role of being an executor of a Will looks like it can be a challenging task. One of my wife’s superpowers is being organized, so she is already pretty far into getting all the papers together. We are hopeful that the process will go pretty smooth for her and her family.

Have you ever been involved as an executor?

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 thoughts on “Executor Role Overview

  1. It’s a tough process. I recently went through this for my mother’s estate in 2020. It really made me second guess having put this responsibility on our 33 year old daughter for our own estate. Don’t get me wrong, she is quite competent, but it’s such a big burden. Keep meticulous records. You will need them to close out the estate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One suggestion I saw online is to buy a couple “Executors Handbook/Notebooks” at the book store. It helps you make sure you are checking all the boxes and you can fill out details in the second book for your own (future) executor and leave it with your will.


  2. Lesson to all, get your affairs in order and have clarity. We had the first “this is what happens when we die” talk with our four adult children (we each have two) last summer. The only question was, “what about the dogs”. Likely both dogs will be gone before we both go and when the younger passes we will likely be 70 and 77 so won’t get more.

    Sorry for the loss

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We helped my FIL use an online will website just last year. He got it notarized and signed at the bank. I’m sure glad we got everything documented. He talked about his wishes a lot, but sometimes gave different people conflicting requests.


  3. First of all, my deep sympathies to your wife and entire family. Second, organization ability, expert help, and diligent follow-through are necessary. It takes a long time to work through the myriad details the estate, distribution, government, judges and loved ones require. One important factor is to keep in mind the emotional attachments those close to him want to maintain with mementos that mattered. Also, the rest of the system are just doing their jobs and have no such attachments. Settling my mom’s small estate took quite a while, because I had to search for some long-lost step-family. Doing it to honor the parent is the right way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree – the ‘distribution’ of personal effects that have great emotional meaning to family members will be the most difficult.


  4. How about a trust to bypass probate and get the judge and lawyers out of the process?

    My father passed in December and my sister who lived across the street handled everything. Having access to Usernames and Passwords can really help. My sister even informed the people my father corresponded with solely using email. It was a bummer for my father when people dropped off the grid and he hadn’t been informed of their passing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We actually helped him with his well last year and set up “transfer on death quote deeds for his two properties. That, and beneficiaries on his major accounts, mean that we won’t have to go through full probate. Should be pretty streamlined. Glad we did that work with him last year.

      He also did not have any online presence. He didn’t have a computer, a smart phone, or even an Internet connection. Instead, he kept good paper records. That makes it easier too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Online can be a real problem for the elderly who are targeted by scammers. Part of my consulting work entails teaching cyber security. I have had many students approach me afterwards and tell me the horror stories of their parents being targeted and even falling for scams. These days landlines actually seem to have more of a problem with being targeted with scam calls. My T-Mobile cellular service does a pretty good job blocking them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agree – my parents have minimal exposure to digital media, but they still get a lot of scams/phishing.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s