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Acting as an executor for a will

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2022 | Estate Planning

Acting as the executor of a will is a serious responsibility. The law defines the duties of an executor of a will in Massachusetts, and also defines the penalties for abusing the role.

A decedent nominates an executor to oversee the affairs of their estate after they die; however, the probate court must approve the appointment. Once probate approves an executor, that person must accept the responsibilities and the legal duties or decline the role.

Fiduciary responsibility

Fiduciary duty requires the executor to maintain loyalty to the estate. An executor cannot make decisions that benefit themselves or abuse their position with the estate to enrich themselves.

Executors who violate their fiduciary duties can suffer penalties under Massachusetts probate law. These penalties can include removal from their role within the estate, fines, and even criminal prosecution.

Distribution of Assets

The primary responsibility of an executor in Massachusetts is properly distributing assets to the beneficiaries. An executor begins by taking inventory of the assets, then must safeguard them until the heirs receive them. The court oversees this process step by step to ensure accuracy.


An executor can receive reasonable compensation for their services, as the time spent managing an estate can be considerable and deserves reimbursement. The judge sets the parameters for payments when they approve the executor, which are commonly calculated by the hour. Massachusetts courts must approve all payments before the distribution of funds.

Acting as an executor for a will is a serious role with responsibilities defined by law. Accepting these duties requires significant commitment.


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