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The role of an estate executor

New York residents familiar with estate planning might know the purpose of an executor. An executor is a representative who is appointed under a will to handle a person's estate after death. An executor makes sure one's wishes are met and receives a stipend from an estate for services.

It is the executor's role to do various tasks after the decedent has passed away and to settle his or her estate. The executor is responsible for an estate until the assets are disbursed to beneficiaries. This means an executor may need to locate and collect assets along with distributing them according to one's will. An executor also handles tax matters for an estate and pays for the decedent's funeral expenses and estate administration expenses.

An executor must investigate the deceased person's financial affairs to begin the process of paying debts and expenses and distributing items. The executor may need to cancel credit cards, pay taxes and other bills, discontinue utility services and oversee home repairs or maintenance. Banks or trust companies serve as executors in some cases while others appoint a trusted adult, and an institution and an individual can also share responsibilities as co-executors.

Managing an estate is important so that a decedent's wishes are met and that beneficiaries get the assets a loved one wanted them to have. While an executor takes the lead in many areas, help is usually needed when settling an estate. To follow the instructions left in wills or trusts, an attorney may be needed to instruct an executor on the best way to proceed so that no issues arise. Since this is a large task, adults must consider estate planning in advance and decide who to select as an executor.

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