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What is an executor of the will under New York law?

In New York, the executor of a will is the person named by the decedent to carry out the provisions of the will. In some cases, a woman tasked with this responsibility is sometimes referred to as an executrix. It is also important to know that sometimes a bank or a trust company can also assume the role of executors of a will, depending on the decedent's assignment of duties.

Under New York state law, a person who dies without first forming a will is considered intestate. In such cases, a court can assign an individual to dispose of the decedent's final affairs. This person is often referred to as an administrator, although he or she provides the same function as an executor. Courts will also sometimes appoint administrators in cases where the decedents failed to assign certain duties regarding their estates or in other cases where the named executor is not willing to undertake those responsibilities.

Generally, the executor of a will is responsible for disposing of the decedent's estate by ensuring that the will is probated. One of the first steps that an executor might take would be to collect all the decedent's wholly owned properties as well as any benefits from insurance and pensions. Next, an executor would likely begin to pay off any debts the decedent might have by using portions of those previously mentioned assets. These debts can include burial costs, taxes that are due on the estate and other costs associated with settling the decedent's accounts with their creditors.

As one might imagine, enforcing a will after being named as the executor is a task that can be exceptionally difficult for larger estates. For example, a decedent may own property in several states or even overseas. Additionally, a decedent's beneficiaries may challenge the distribution of the estate.

Despite the challenges, New York residents who have been named as executors also have the ability to retain legal counsel to assist them with their executors' duties. If you are currently facing this dilemma, then you should know that your New York estate planning attorney can also represent you in these matters.

Source: New York City Bar, "What is an Executor?" Dec. 01, 2014

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