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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 2/12/21

Part 6 of 12

How Are The Instructions In A Will Carried Out?

The instructions you leave in your will are carried out by an individual you select known as an executor. The generic term is …

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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?


Part 6 of 12

How Are The Instructions In A Will Carried Out?

The instructions you leave in your will are carried out by an individual you select known as an executor. The generic term is personal representative. If no one is named in your will as executor or the person refuses to accept the responsibilities, the court will appoint an administrator.

An executor is a legal term referring to a person named by the maker of a will or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of the will. Typically, the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, although it is not required that he/she fulfill this.

The executor’s duties also include disbursing property to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, obtaining information of potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate and approving or disapproving creditors’ claims.

An executor will make sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed, and tax payments are made. They will also assist the attorney with the estate.

Additionally, the executor acts as a legal conveyor who designates where the donations will be sent using the information left in bequests, whether they be sent to charity or other organizations.

In most circumstances, the executor is the representative of the estate for all purposes, and has the ability to sue or be sued on behalf of the estate. The executor holds legal title to the estate property, but may not use the title or property for his/her own benefit, unless permitted by the terms of the will.

An executor has no automatic entitlement to be paid, as it would conflict with his duties to manage the affairs in the best financial interests of the estate. Nonetheless, compensation can be directed within the will or on application to a court. In the latter case, many jurisdictions set limits on reasonable compensation.

What type of compensation is an executor entitled to?

Being the executor of a Will is a job. It involves a significant amount of work. The executor has to probate the decedent’s will, sell the decedent’s assets, open up an estate bank account, pay any outstanding debts of the decedent, file the appropriate tax returns, account to the court and the beneficiaries, and make distributions to the beneficiaries. “Assuming that all of those tasks go smoothly, the person serving as the executor still must take significant amounts of time out of his/her life to ensure that the tasks are done.”


Next Wednesday we will celebrate President's Day. A quote from one of our past Presidents:

“We should insist that if an individual from another country comes here in good faith to become an American citizen and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace or origin, But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here and that is the English language ...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American movie.” - Theodore Roosevelt (1907)


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