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What does an executor do during probate?

When someone passes away, loved ones and/or the courts will decide what to do with the decedent's properties, assets and liabilities. This can be difficult, but often, a person's estate plan will provide critical guidance. One particularly important point of guidance will be to assign someone to ensure a person's wishes are carried out properly. This person is the executor.

Whether you are creating an estate plan or your loved one named you as the executor of his or her estate, it can be crucial that you understand what an executor does during the probate process in Illinois. 

Job duties of an executor

There are numerous expectations for an executor. Among the specific duties an executor will perform include:

  • Filing the will
  • Locating the person's assets
  • Notifying beneficiaries and heirs
  • Taking care of financial responsibilities during probate, like mortgages and taxes
  • Closing out accounts
  • Selling property
  • Paying creditors
  • Distributing the decedent's property in accordance with his or her wishes
  • Appearing in court on behalf of the estate

Challenges that may arise

With so many responsibilities that come with this role, it is not unusual for challenges to arise. For instance, an executor may struggle with the legal or financial elements of their duties if his or her background is not in those areas.

It is also possible for heirs or beneficiaries to contest the decisions made by an executor. In some cases, they might accuse an executor of mismanaging finances or claim that the appointment was invalid in the first place.

Preparing for these and other issues

If you are creating an estate plan, consider the capabilities of the person you are naming as your executor. Make sure it is someone willing and able to take on these vital responsibilities, and inform that person of your decision.

If you are the executor of an estate, you can prepare by familiarizing yourself with your loved one's assets and wishes before he or she passes away. Afterward, it will be critical to take your role seriously and stay organized to minimize confusion.

In either position, consulting an attorney regarding any questions or concerns you may have can be a wise decision.

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