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Massachusetts wills: What do executors do?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2013 | Wills, Wills

For many people in Massachusetts, it may seem like a simple decision to decide who will serve as executor of their wills. However, making that choice without first knowing and understanding what an executor is responsible for could end up being disastrous. When it comes to probating wills and settling an estate, executors have numerous duties.

When a person dies, his or her assets are essentially frozen until the will has gone through probate. As such, the first responsibility of the executor is to initiate probate proceedings. Once the will has been admitted to probate and the executor has been formally appointed by the court, the real work begins.

The executor will need to marshal all of the estate’s assets. Once they are accumulated, they must be inventoried and protected until they can be distributed. Then, the executor must settle all of the estate’s taxes and bills.

Sometimes it is necessary for assets of the estate to be sold. Regardless, it will be necessary for the executor to keep detailed records regarding any movement of the assets of the estate. Once all of that is done and accounted for, the remaining assets will be distributed in accordance with the will.

The executor of a Massachusetts resident’s estate must be willing and able to complete all of these tasks. For this reason, it may be a good idea to discuss such an appointment with the designated individual before making it “official” in any estate planning documents. When people plan their wills, the choice of executor can either help or hinder in ensuring their affairs are handled in the manner they wish them to be.

Source:, Beyond wills: other essential elements of an estate plan, Ruven Rodriguez, Nov. 3, 2013


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