Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

I was named as an executor. What does that mean?

Whether a loved one came to you and asked if you would serve as executor of his or her estate, or you found out after his or her passing that your loved one named you executor in the last will and testament, you may wonder just what that means. You may know that it has something to do with probate, but that's about it.

If you take on the role of an executor, you will be responsible for numerous duties relating to closing out the estate of your loved one. Before you agree to serve in this capacity and undertake these duties, it may help you to know what you are facing.

Here's what you have to do

As the executor of your loved one's estate, you agree to take responsibility for the following duties:

  • Decide whether the will needs to go through probate
  • Identify and locate all of your loved one's assets
  • File the will in the appropriate Oregon court
  • Open a bank account for the estate
  • Contact those named in the will and any other potential heirs
  • Pay any debts and otherwise deal with any creditors
  • Continue any payments necessary to protect assets
  • Pay any final income taxes
  • Wrap up your loved one's affairs
  • Distribute the remainder of the estate's assets in accordance with the will

These duties may seem straightforward, but they are often anything but. In fact, each task may entail numerous steps to complete.

Here's the legal part

When you agree to serve as an executor, you owe a "fiduciary duty," which means that you will perform your duties in good faith. Diligence and honesty are the hallmarks of a good executor. Your behavior must be above reproach. While you carry out your duties, it is a requirement that you adhere to the wishes expressed in your loved one's will. If you fail in your duties, the court may hold you responsible.

You may now be wondering why you would ever be an executor with all of the perceived pressures of the job. However, you don't have to pass on this honor. You may hire attorneys, accountants, appraisers or other third parties to help you carry out your duties. With their help, you can easily fulfill your duties should you decide to take on the role of an executor

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Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law
1607 N.E. 41st Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

Toll Free: 888-779-8837
Phone: 503-505-7941
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