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The Role of an Executor in Your Will: Duties and Responsibilities

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What is an Executor of a Will?

When you create a will, you appoint an executor, sometimes called a personal representative or administrator in Missouri. The executor is a critical role, as they are the person who is expected to oversee your estate and manage it just as you would and have specified.

Executors should be those you fully trust, and who thoroughly understand your wishes, so they have little to no questions regarding situations that may arise while helping to settle your estate upon your death.

The role of an executor can last for months or more than a year, depending on the size and complexities of the estate.

Who Can Be An Executor in Missouri?

Many states prohibit prior felons from becoming an executor of someone’s will. In Missouri, a former felon can become an executor, provided they have completed their sentence and any other legal requirements relative to their felony crimes.

An executor can be anyone who is over the age of 18 and of sound mind. Of sound mind simply means that the person is unimpaired by illness, drugs, or dementia and is capable of rational thought.

Who Isn’t Able to Become an Executor of a Will?

Judges of any court in the state of Missouri are not allowed to be executors of a will unless they are within three degrees of separation from the decedent, such as a spouse, a child, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle. Also in this category are any court’s state or deputy clerks or division clerks.

Anyone under the age of 18 or is not of sound mind.

A habitual drunkard – meaning those that are frequently intoxicated or being drunk is common.

Partnerships, corporations, or associations organized outside of the state of Missouri. These include national banks who’s principal place of business resides outside Missouri.

It’s important to note that if a personal representative passes away, their executor can not step in and become the executor for the original decedent’s will when they pass. This rule makes it imperative that you have a contingent executor named as well to avoid the state having to appoint an executor.

What Are Some of the Responsibilities of an Executor?

The role of the executor is incredibly important and has a significant list of responsibilities. One of the most critical roles is to oversee the assets and debts of the decedent and ensure that the estate is efficiently managed. Taking control of the estate and making choices in the estate’s best interest are other vital roles for an executor.

One of the first essential steps of the executor is to file the will with the court and publish a notification in the local or regional newspaper stating the date of the decedent’s death so creditors have a chance to collect.

An inventory of the entire estate must be completed at the time of death so the executor can have a clear overall picture of what needs to be managed. The executor has thirty days from the date of death to complete this task unless the state has granted them additional time.

The inventory should include;

Real property such as real estate, personal property such as household goods or furniture, bank accounts, insurance policies, corporate stocks, bonds, mortgages, and more.

Including the value of some of these assets through an appraisal, such as real estate, is also required. Household goods or furniture are required to be accounted for, but an appraisal or real-time value isn’t required on most of these items.

Other Important Duties of an Executor

An executor’s other key aspect is ensuring that debts are accurately accounted for and paid. This responsibility may include negotiating pay-off amounts with creditors, selling or otherwise liquidating assets to satisfy obligations, and more.

The executor is also responsible for ensuring that any federal, local, or state taxes are promptly paid with proceeds from the estate.

It’s important to note that the executor also has the ability to hire professionals, such as an accountant or financial adviser, to help with any responsibility they don’t feel comfortable fulfilling on their own.

What if the Executor Doesn’t Fulfill Their Role Satisfactorily?

Courts or beneficiaries may pursue removing an executor from their duties if they feel they are inefficient or otherwise acting against the estate’s best interests.

Beneficiaries can file a complaint and petition the courts to remove the executor based on;

Engaging in acts that are for self-gain or betterment rather than the estate’s best interest

Not being in full contact with the beneficiaries of the estate.

Not informing creditors about the decedent’s passing.

Any fraudulent activity

An Important Role

Those who are chosen to become an executor of a will are those whom the decedent highly trusts. The duties and responsibilities of the executor are not to be taken lightly and should be respected and handled efficiently.

If you have further questions regarding creating a will, choosing an executor, or other estate planning needs, contact our office at (314) 347-3567 today. Our team has multiple years of experience helping clients and their families to ensure their legacy is well taken care of and planned for.

We understand and respect your need to continue to look out for your loved ones even long after you are gone, and an effective estate plan can allow you to do that.

We look forward to serving you and your family.

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