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The responsibilities of an executor named in a will

Naming an executor is one of the most important estate planning decisions that New York residents have to make. When someone is asked to serve as an executor of a testator's will, it is important for the person to understand the responsibilities that they might be taking on. If those who are asked feel that they are too disorganized or ignorant about financial matters, they might want to say no to being an executor.

The executor must locate the deceased person's will and all of their financial assets and then disburse those assets to beneficiaries in the manner that the will states. If these duties are not performed adequately, the executor could be sued by the testator's surviving family members for fraud or negligence.

Executors can mitigate the legal risks of their job by communicating with the testators while they are still alive. If possible, an executor should ask to see the will during the testator's lifetime so that any ambiguous wording in it can be clarified or, if necessary, changed. In some cases, testators will not want to disclose the details of their will to the executor while they are alive. However, the executor can still make sure that they are told where the find the will and any other key estate planning documents.

As long as executors take their time, use sound judgment and communicate with beneficiaries, the chances of being sued while serving in that capacity are slim. By working with an estate administration attorney during the process, executors may be able to ensure that their experience goes smoothly.

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