Did you just find out that you were named in a loved one’s will as the estate executor? Maybe they told you they were going to do it when they made the plan; maybe they never talked to you and this is a surprise. Either way, you’re starting to wonder what duties you have and what steps you need to take.

In a general sense, your job is to carry out the person’s wishes as they noted in their will and estate plan. For instance, if they said that their bank account should be divided evenly between their two children, that’s a helpful note to add to a will, but someone still needs to access the account, divide the money and distribute it properly to the children. And that is one of the most basic things an executor has to deal with. It can get far more complicated. Some potential duties include:

  • Finding and gathering the actual assets.
  • Contacting those named in the will.
  • Delivering assets to those individuals.
  • Answering questions that they may have.
  • Paying outstanding debts.
  • Paying final bills — from the water bill to the taxes for the year.
  • Creating new bank accounts, when necessary, for the assets from the estate.
  • Accessing financial accounts and closing them.

All in all, you are just taking care of the affairs that the deceased person left behind. Some of this is listed out in the will; some is not. It is your job to sort everything out and take the proper steps to wrap up the process. Be sure you know exactly what legal requirements you must follow.