When approaching the task of estate planning, many people may focus heavily on the decisions they need to make regarding how they wish their assets to be distributed after they die. This, however, is only one of the decisions they must make during the estate planning process.

Once a person dies, the fulfillment of their estate plan must be managed by an executor of their will, making the determination of an executor an important task during estate planning.

The responsibilities of an executor

As explained by Policy Genius, a person named to act as the executor of another person’s estate or will must carry out many essential duties that extend far beyond distributing assets to any heirs. An executor, also referred to as a personal representative, must oversee significant financial matters including filing income taxes, paying any outstanding debts, closing bank or investment accounts and more.

Kiplinger indicates that an executor need not be a financial professional but should have a basic understanding of financial matters and the ability to learn the nuances related to different situations. An executor may still choose to hire professionals like accountants or attorneys to assist with some portions of handling the estate.

Multiple or backup executors

An executor may need to address disputes that arise between heirs. Some people choose to name multiple executors as one way of potentially preventing conflicts that may arise if one adult child becomes envious of their sibling’s role as the executor.

Other people choose to name a solo person as an executor but list secondary or backup executors in the event the first person is unable to perform all duties.