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What is a will executor?

It has been estimated that as few as 30 percent of Americans have wills. Considering the seriousness of the topic, it is surprising that so few people take the time and effort to create a will. Failing to create a will means that an estate enters what is known as intestate, which means that a probate court will handle the division of all property and finances within the estate. This can be a long, expensive and complicated legal process.

During the process of forming a will, aside from determining who amongst a person's family, friends, religious organizations and charities receives what, a decision must be made as to who is in charge of the process of making sure that all funds go to the appropriate parties. This person is designated as the executor.

The executor will handle all aspects of the will-holder's wishes upon his or her death. In addition to dividing up all the property and assets, the executor is responsible for addressing debts the testator may have, as well as paying for estate expenses and taxes. In addition, the executor is responsible for making certain all the appropriate paperwork is filled out and submitted, including both court and tax documents.

Typically the executor is a fair and trustworthy person of the will-holder, traditionally a family member or close friend. Often, an alternative executor is also chosen. As part of the will-writing process, the executor will be in communication with the testator throughout, assuring that he or she has a full understanding of the responsibilities and to make certain that all the wishes of the will-holder are met.

Source: Findlaw, "Wills: An Overview," Accessed Sep. 8, 2015

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