What Does an Executor Do?

Writing your will starts with choosing the right executor. After all, it’s your executor’s job to find all your assets, pay all your debts, and distribute what’s left to your beneficiaries to your will. This sounds easy, but unless you have been an executor you do not know what an executor’s job really involves. So who should be your executor? As Tom Carter states in Write Your Legal Will in 3 East Steps, the best way to answer this question is to start with another question, “What does an executor do?”

What does an executor do?

Here’s a list of some of the things a trust company, which is routinely name as an executor in wills, has to do after the death of someone who appointed the company as executor in their will:

  • Figure out how to get into the person’s house or apartment.
  • Food had to be sorted into perishables and non-perishables and then disposed of.
  • The refrigerator and freezer had to be emptied, cleaned, turned off, and left open to air out.
  • Cleaning supplies had to be sorted and removed.
  • Pots and pans, linens, bathroom supplies, boxes in the basement, clothes, books, tools, lawn mowers, cars, and many other items had to be dealt with.
  • Every dresser drawer, housecoat pocket, old envelop, cardboard box, and kitchen cupboard had to be searched through to prevent important papers, savings bonds, jewellery, stock certificates, or a $1,000 bill from inadvertently going out with the trash.


Have you noticed that we haven’t begun talking about the part most people are interested in, which is handling out the money and assets to the beneficiaries? Bills and debts have to be found and paid before the money and assets can be released to the beneficiaries. After all bills, loans, and debts are paid, the executor is ready to distribute the deceased’s property, but what if he or she can’t find the beneficiaries? The executor could be holding on to the deceased’s assets for a long time while that gets sorted.

If all this seems like a lot of work for a trained professional such as a trust officer, what about the normal person who has never done anything like this before? The executor has to squeeze it all into his or her normal day – between getting the children to school and going to work. Being an executor is a big job, so how do you know you are picking the right person for it?

Year after year, the statistics show that the majority of Americans and Canadians don’t have a will. Ensure your family is provided for and your wishes are carried out after your death – write a will.

You don’t need to see a lawyer to do that.

Start by getting a wills kit, choosing your executor, and listing your wishes regarding your estate and non-estate assets.

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