When you create your will, you are stating your wishes for the distribution of your estate. The executor is responsible for fulfilling those requests. Most wills also name an alternate executor in case the original choice is unable to complete their duties. In some cases, the executor declines the position, as they are under no obligation to take the job.
The executor must locate and secure all the assets of the estate and simultaneously make record of any debts. A final federal income tax form must be filed, along with any state or local income taxes that may apply. If the estate is large enough, state and federal estate taxes must be filed and paid before the estate can be closed by the probate court. Many executors will require the services of an attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met.
The administration of the estate will require informing all parties of the death. The executor usually obtains multiple copies of the death certificate because most financial institutions will require written proof. Many estates will advertise in the legal notices of local newspapers to search for unknown creditors of the deceased. A bank account should be established to receive monies due to the estate and pay the bills generated by the estate. In addition to professional fees and the retirement of any debts, the estate must remain current on taxes and insurance for any properties involved.
If there is not enough cash available to cover obligations, the executor must decide which assets to liquidate in order to do so. Once all legal debts are closed, the executor is free to distribute your assets according to the will.