New York Executor Duties and Responsibilities

An executor is the person named in a will by a testator to be responsible for managing the testator's estate after he or she passes away. While one of the most important responsibilities of an executor is to distribute the estate's assets according to the terms of the will, there are a number of additional responsibilities that an executor must complete before distributing an estate's assets. Some of the duties and responsibilities of an executor will be defined in the will. However, New York law also defines the duties and responsibilities of an executor as a fiduciary to the estate. If you are named as an executor of a loved one's estate it is important to contact an experienced New York Estate Lawyer who will explain to you the details of estate administration and help make sure that the process proceeds as quickly and efficiently as possible under the circumstances.

Responsibilities of the Executor

In fulfilling his or her duties and responsibilities, the executor must keep accurate records that show all money and assets that were disbursed from the estate and all that was received by the estate. The records should have supporting documentation such as receipts and bank statements. The executor will have to provide such records to the Surrogate's Court.

Take Control of Assets. One of the first jobs of the executor is to take control over the decedent's assets. Estates assets may include real estate, vehicles, artwork, collectibles, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, furniture, and other personal property. The executor will inventory your assets and have them appraised. This is a necessary step as the executor must know the value of the estate before he or she will be able to pay estate debts and distribute assets to the beneficiaries.

Managing the Estate. Before the estate assets are distributed and the estate is closed, as a fiduciary the executor must take care of assets in a prudent manner. This may be as simple as making sure that the testator's home is secured, or making sure that rental property is properly leased. It may also mean making sure that cash is invested prudently.

Pay Estate Debts. The next major responsibility for the executor is to pay estate debts. The executor will advise known creditors of the debts in order to allow them to file claims against the estate. Estate debts may also include funeral expenses as well as outstanding bills such as utility bills. Taxes will be paid from estate assets and the executor must file tax returns. Fees associated with the administration of the estate must be paid out of estate assets such as court costs and executor fees.

Distributing Estate Assets. The executor's final responsibility is to distribute the estate's assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. Prior to the final distribution of assets, small allowances can be given to the testator's spouse, minor children and others who relied on the testator for support. In general, however, no assets are distributed until debts are paid and all other estate issues are resolved.

The duties and responsibilities of an executor are often quite routine. However, they can also become quite complicated depending on the size of the estate and any unexpected events that develop in the process such as estate litigation. An experienced attorney will be able to help you complete the process of winding up the testator's affairs and distributing estate assets as quickly as possible under the circumstances. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has extensive estate planning experience and frequently represents clients before the New York Surrogate's Court. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your estate matter. We serve individuals throughout the following locations:

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