By now, readers of this blog have probably come across the term "executor" at some point or another. Some readers might wonder exactly what an executor does when it comes to probate. If you are one of those readers who wants to know about the duties of an executor, you are in luck.
An executor is a person who makes sure that a deceased person's will is followed. This person is responsible for making sure that assets are distributed in accordance with the person's wishes. On top of that, the executor pays off creditors. For the services they provide, executors are usually entitled to a fee but not to any proceeds from the sale of assets of the estate. While that might sound easy, being an executor is sometimes a complex task.
In some cases, an executor is something like a detective. The executor has to find the people who are named in the will, as well as the assets of the deceased person. Those duties can sometimes prove to be very complex.
The executor of an estate might also need to wear the hat of an accountant because the executor is responsible for handling the money in the estate. This can mean paying off the debts, making payments on mortgages and other financial obligations and setting up a bank account for the estate. The executor also has to notify entities that pay the deceased person, such as Social Security or pension administrators, to let them know of the person's death. Canceling credit cards is also necessary.
One important note is that executors are appointed if the decedent had a will. If there isn't a will for the decedent, then an administrator is appointed instead of an executor. The administrator has to ensure that the decedent's property is distributed according to Florida laws regarding intestate succession. This is one reason why having a will in place is so important. Your estate plan gives you the power to decide where your assets are placed when you pass away.
Source: FindLaw, "What does an executor do?" Aug. 06, 2014