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What is the executor’s fiduciary duty?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Will Contests

An executor of an estate is a role given to someone by the testator to act out the testator’s last wishes and settle the estate. The executor is bound by their fiduciary duty. What this means is that the executor must always act in the best interests of the estate. 

An executor would breach their fiduciary duty if they self-deal, reveal private information or fail to perform their duties responsibly. The executor should know what responsibilities they must meet to settle an estate. Here is what you should know:

Locate key documents

The executor must locate several documents to perform their duties – the most important of which is the testator’s will. Alongside the will, the testator should get several copies of the testator’s death certificates. 

Submitting the will to probate court

The testator should submit the will to a probate court. Once this is done, the probate process can begin and the executor can fulfill the rest of their duties.

Contacting interested parties

There will likely be several parties that are interested to know about the testator’s passing, including the testator’s bank, insurance policy holder and creditors. The executor may be responsible for contacting these parties.

Paying taxes and debts

The executor may be responsible for paying any of the testator’s remaining taxes and debts. Assets from the testator’s estate may be used to do this.

Contacting beneficiaries

The testator’s beneficiaries may need to be notified of the testator’s passing and the current status of the probate process. The testator may have left contact information for the executor. 

Distributing assets

The main responsibility of the executor is to distribute the testator’s assets. When applicable, the executor can contact beneficiaries to retrieve their inheritance.

The duties of the executor are lengthy. Executors can reach out for legal guidance to help them through the probate process.