An Executor may be required to perform many or all of the following activities according to the Illinois Probate Act*:
1. Ensure that the deceased person's will has been properly filed with the clerk of the local county probate court where the deceased person resided. The Probate court will then issue a document called the "Letters of Office" or "Letters Testamentary" which confirms the Executor's appointment as Personal Representative of the estate.
2. The executor should also give notice to all of the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate regarding the probate proceedings.
3. The Executor uses the Letters of Office to notify banks, credit card companies, and government agencies of the decedent's death and transact business on behalf of the estate. Notice must be sent to all known creditors and notices published to all unknown creditors in a local legal newspaper.
4. Set up a bank account for incoming funds and pay any ongoing bills for the estate.
If the decedent is owed money such as incoming paychecks, this account can hold them. An executor should be on the lookout for mortgages, utilities and similar bills that still need to be paid throughout the probate process.
5. Collect and inventory all the estate's assets and final debts and file the inventory with the county probate court
6. Maintain property and ensure it is properly secured and insured. If no provisions are made in the will, the Executor must list and sell the real estate on the open market.
This includes maintaining a house until it is distributed to heirs or sold. Also, an executor must preserve and protect all personal property.
7. Pay the estate's debts and taxes
State law dictates the procedure for notifying creditors and satisfying debts and obligations. Depending on the size of the estate, there may be state and/or federal estate taxes to pay as well.
8. Distribute assets
Distribution occurs according to the wishes expressed in the will. If there is no will, state probate laws apply.
9. Dispose of other property
If there is any property left after paying off the estate’s debts and distribution to heirs, the executor is responsible for disposing of it.
10. Represent the estate in court
An executor may be required to appear in court on behalf of the estate.
Since estates vary greatly in size and complexity, an executor's job may be easy or challenging to carry out—and responsibilities may very well go beyond the items in this list.
*This information is of a general nature and not intended as legal advice.