Duties of an Executor in New York State

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Who is the Executor?


The Executor is an individual or bank or trust company named by the will-maker to carry out the provisions of the Will and administer the will-maker's estate. The will-maker's "estate" is all of the property owned by that individual at the time of his or her death. A Will can appoint more than one Executor.


If a person dies without a Will (or if there is a Will but no Executor is named or willing to act), an individual will be appointed by the court to wind up the decedent's affairs. This person is called the Administrator.


Executors are entitled to commissions for their services, which are paid from the estate unless waived by the Executor. Sometimes family members or friends who serve as Executors waive commissions. Banks or trust companies, however, will seek compensation, and will usually serve only if the estate is big enough to meet their minimum fee requirements.


What Does an Executor Do?


Executors typically perform the following functions:


  • Pay estate bills and taxes.

  • Notify financial institutions of the will-maker’s death.

  • Notify government agencies (like the Social Security Administration) of the will-maker’s death.

  • Maintain and safeguard property until the estate is settled (for example, upkeep of a house).

  • Distribute assets according to the will.


During the administration of the estate, which can take anywhere from months to years depending on the size and complexity of the estate The Executor is responsible for investing and managing the estate's assets (including any real estate or cooperative apartment). Once all of the bills and taxes have been paid, the Executor is responsible for distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the terms of the will-maker's Will.


Finally, the Executor will be required to account to the beneficiaries (and sometimes to the Court) for every asset collected, all gains and losses, all income and other receipts during administration, and all of the property paid out or distributed to the decedent's creditors and beneficiaries.


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