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Executor of estate: Definition and duties

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2022 | Estate Planning & Probate |

All predetermined estates in New Jersey will include the naming of an executor who is appointed the authority and responsibility to ensure a will is carried out. Choosing the right individual for an executor is vital for successful disposition of a will and distribution of property along with paying outstanding bills to creditors. There are more responsibilities than there is authority, and the appointed individual should have a good working knowledge of what the will includes and what they will need to do before an ultimate death.

Definition of an executor

An executor is the primary fiduciary of any estate. They are to be accepted first by the court, and then they should perform all of the duties assigned per the will and New Jersey state law. They should be named at the time of estate planning ideally, but a request for executor assignment can be requested after the eventual death of the grantor.


The first duty of an estate executor is to report the death to the government, including providing a death certificate. They are responsible for appearing in court for all issues associated with the estate, especially probate matters. They are to file the will with the court of jurisdiction and then perform all of the directives stated in the will. These include paying outstanding debts and taxes along with distributing personal property that is exempt from probate as the will indicates in the estate plan.

A predetermined executor can also be beneficial before the grantor actually passes. A primary benefit is that they can open joint bank accounts that can be used to protect financial assets from exposure in probate. This effectively transfers ownership of those assets directly to the executor. It is also important to note that assignment of an executor can be contested by other family members and potential inheritors, so advance appointment is important.