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Executor Responsibilities

Attorney Derek Graham presents Part One of his Estate Planning Job Description Series

Here at RRPG, as part of planning for brighter tomorrows, we assist families with making several designations. This includes identifying the right people from a person’s support system/family to play key roles in their plan. We often get asked for explanations about these roles and what duties come with a certain role. Over the next several months, we will provide an overview of some of these roles.


An Executor is a position that is identified in a person’s Last Will & Testament. The person named Executor has the responsibility of administering the decedent’s probate estate. A less legal way of saying that is… the Executor is responsible for taking charge of everything that has to go through the probate process. There are a couple of key things to know about being an Executor in Ohio.

Number 1

First, an Executor should ideally be an in-state resident. While you are not legally required to be an in-state resident to serve as an Executor, many Ohio courts require out of state Executors to post a bond or have an in-state co-Executor. Bonds get expensive and co-Executors require extra paperwork. Since one of our objectives in probate is to minimize cost and expedite the process, we don’t like bonds or co-executors here at RRPG. Accordingly, we encourage clients to name in-state family/friends to serve as Executors.

Number 2

Second, an Executor will be responsible for: 1) collecting those assets that have to pass through the probate process and make sure they are accounted for to the court; and 2.) distributing those same assets pursuant to the terms of the Will. Sometimes this means pouring all of a decedent’s assets into an existing trust, sometimes it means dividing the assets up amongst several named beneficiaries. The Executor’s job is to understand the Will and follow the terms of the Will.

Number 3

Third, an Executor must understand the role of the probate court. Executor’s get their authority once approved as an Executor by the Probate Court. While the Last Will & Testament serves as the roadmap for what action an Executor can/must/should take, the Probate Court oversees all of the Executor’s activities and certain actions of an Executor will require Probate Court oversight and/or approval. For example, Executors must file an inventory with the Probate Court listing all of the decedent’s probate assets. Executors must also file accounting with the Probate Court demonstrating how the assets were handled and distributed in accordance with the Will.

In a well thought out estate plan, the role of the Executor should be minimal, if not non-existent, because a well thought out estate plan will not require Probate Court. Where Probate Court is necessary—having a dependable Executor ensures that your wishes will be carried out and your assets distributed pursuant to your wishes.

Check back next month to learn more about the role of a TRUSTEE.



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