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What are an executor’s duties during probate?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2022 | Probate & Estate Administration |

When someone dies, assets that belong to his or her estate may have to pass through a court approval process before distributing to heirs and beneficiaries. The legal term for this process is probate.

If the deceased made a will naming a personal representative, or executor, this representative may be the one responsible for guiding assets through probate, wrapping up estate affairs and ultimately disbursing inheritances.

Executor responsibilities

The first duty of a will’s executor is to file the document with the Register of Wills and, if he or she chooses, accept the legal authority to administer the estate during the probate process. Steps the executor must take during probate include:

  • Notifying heirs and beneficiaries that will has entered probate
  • Gathering, protecting and making an inventory of estate assets, including real property, personal property and financial assets like savings accounts, retirement funds and investments
  • Identifying and discharging estate debts, which may include funeral costs, final medical bills and expenses related to estate administration
  • Filing final federal and state income tax returns for the deceased
  • Filing a final accounting of the estate with the Register of Wills

Potential challenges for an executor

From accurately inventorying and assessing estate assets, discharging debts and distributing inheritances to handling potential disputes with heirs or beneficiaries, the role of executor is often a challenging one.

Even an organized and conscientious representative may feel overwhelmed, and mistakes or oversights may result in delay, extra expense or even personal liability. Executors should know that if they require legal assistance during the probate process, they may be able to include the cost as part of the estate’s administrative expenses.