What Does a Probate Executor Do?

A person who creates an estate plan, which will typically include a “will” and a “trust,” will appoint an executor. Generally, the executor is responsible for administrating the will and trust upon the death of the person who created the estate plan.

An executor generally must ensure that the requirements of a will are properly administrated. Here, the executor cannot do anything that goes against the requirements of the will. The executor must also not do anything that will negatively impact a beneficiary of the estate plan.

What the specific duties of the executor will be largely depends on the estate that the executor is required to work with. For example, if the will provides that certain property should be sold with the proceeds of the sale going to certain beneficiaries, the executor will need to sell the property and distribute the proceeds of the sale to the beneficiaries as described in the will.

Some specific things an executor may have to do may include hiring a probate lawyer, identify the deceased person’s assets and liabilities, give notice to heirs or interested parties, including creditors, pay any debts using the assets of the estate, manage a will contest from a potential beneficiary, and distribute property or money to heirs.

Finally, a request can be made, and is commonly made, to the probate court to compensate the executor for completing duties as an executor. This compensation typically comes from the estate assets.

Being an executor of an estate can be very serious depending on the nature of the estate. Here, it is important to work with an experienced probate attorney and ensure that mismanagement does not occur. If you have been named as an executor, contact SmartLaw to find a qualified and experienced probate attorney in your area.


Serving Southern California counties, SmartLaw is the best way to find the right qualified legal resource. SmartLaw is certified by the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association. SmartLaw is a public service of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

The materials and information available on this website are for informational purposes only. The materials and information available on this website are not for the purpose of providing legal advice and should not be relied upon or used in place of legal advice from an attorney. You should contact an attorney to receive advice with respect to any particular issue or problem you may have. For free assistance finding the right legal resource, contact SmartLaw by calling (866)SMARTLAW or by visiting us at SmartLaw.org.