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Executor Duties and Responsibilities

An executor is the person named in a will who is responsible for managing the estate of the testator once the testator passes away. An executor has a variety of responsibilities related to winding up the decedent’s estate and distributing the assets in the estate to the beneficiaries. The activities of the executor are overseen by a probate court judge. If you were named executor of an estate and would like more information about how to fulfill your duties in a manner that is consistent with Illinois law, contact an experienced Chicago probate attorney.


Before the executor distribute estate asset to beneficiaries, the estate must go through a process called probate. In Chicago probate is initiated when the executor presents the will to the Probate Court. Unless there is something glaringly wrong with the will, the judge will admit it to probate and officially give the executor the authority to manage the estate of the decedent.

Executor Duties and Responsibilities

Executor duties and responsibilities include the overall management of the estate, the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries, and providing an accounting of the estate management activities. The entire process is overseen by a probate court judge.

  • Gathering estate assets. One of the first responsibilities of an executor is to gather all of the estate assets and safeguard them. Estate assets may include bank accounts and other financial accounts, vehicles, real estate, collectibles, jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, and other personal property. The executor must then determine the value of the estate. It is critical that the executor determine the value of each asset. It may be necessary for the executor to hire an expert to appraise certain high value or unusual assets. Understanding the value of the assets in the estate is important as the executor must understand what is available to pay creditors and what is available to distribute to beneficiaries.
  • Paying estate expenses. Another important responsibility of the executor is to pay all debts owed by the estate. The debts may include outstanding bills that the decedent owed. It may also include expenses related to the management of the estate. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, it may be necessary to hire professionals such as an attorney and a financial advisor to help manage the estate. In addition, there may also be claims against the estate and estate litigation. It is up to the executor to settle those claims. If the claim is valid the executor would pay the claim out of estate assets. If the executor feels that a claim is not valid, it is his responsibility to defend the estate. The executor must pay only valid claims. If you are unsure as to whether a claim is valid or an expense is appropriate, contact a Chicago probate attorney who will help make sure that any disbursements from the estate are appropriate.
  • Distribute assets. Once creditors have been paid, one of the final responsibilities of an executor is to distribute the assets left in the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
  • Accounting. Executor must report to the probate court an accounting of his activities. The accounting would include detailed information and detailed records as to all of the money and property that was paid out from the estate and all of the money and property that came into the estate. The executor must explain to the court the purpose of each transaction. The accounting must include information about the property that was included in the estate at the time of the decedent’s death. The accounting will also include specifics about money and property the left if estate such as fees paid to professionals, money paid to creditors, money paid to settle claims, and distributions to beneficiaries. As a probate attorney in Chicago will explain, it is very important that the estate accounting is accurate as required by Illinois law. Otherwise, interested parties have the right to file objections to the accounting for reasons such as in accuracy, mistakes, and suspicion of fraud.
  • Closing estate. After the executor has complete all of his executor duties and responsibilities, the final step is to close the estate.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Executor duties and responsibilities can be challenging. If you are an executor or estate administrator in Chicago and you have questions about an aspect of managing an estate, contact a probate attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have years of experience representing beneficiaries, executors, heirs, and fiduciaries in a variety of estate matters. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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