The Executor of Will Checklist: Duties & What to Do

What does an executor of a will do?

Being named the executor of a will brings with it a wide variety of important duties that must be carried out to meet the wishes of the decedent. If you have been named as an executor, here are several of the functions you may need to undertake:


Locate the will.

Many times this will be left with the family attorney or kept safely with important family papers, or may even be stored in a safety deposit box at a local bank.


Retain an attorney.

Not all estates require the assistance of a lawyer, but having one can smooth out any problems before they become larger or unmanageable for the executor.


Identify and protect the deceased person’s assets.

This may range from securing jewelry and other valuables, to making payments on real estate and other tangibles, or whatever an individual situation may demand.


Review the will and work with beneficiaries.

You will need to make sure the will is, in fact, the deceased person’s final will. You will need to notify beneficiaries named in the will and set up a bank account for the estate to start the process of disbursing assets.


Notify all other appropriate parties.

This will include making sure creditors know about the death, making arrangements to appear before the probate court, sending death notices to all relevant parties, determine what debts the estate owes, contact Social Security and life insurance companies, and notify the IRS. Depending on your situation, there may be other parties to contact as well.


Continue paying bills as needed.

Until real estate is disposed of, you may need to make mortgage payments, utility bill payments, and others as required.


Start distributing assets of the estate.

In accordance with the deceased person’s wishes, you will need to distribute assets to beneficiaries. In some cases, the transfer may be complicated to some degree, and if it is, you might consider retaining the services of an estate attorney to assist you.


File papers to close out the estate.

Once all of your tasks have been completed, this is the final step you will take as an executor.


Have more questions about executor of estate duties?

Email us, anytime. We’re happy to answer your questions, or to schedule a free consultation: [email protected]


RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

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About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

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