An executor is a person or organization you choose to carry out your last wishes outlined in your will. Your executor should be someone you trust is responsible enough to manage your estate after you pass away.  

Choosing an executor is a big decision when it comes to estate planning. So, what should I know about an executor? What should I consider before naming an executor? Here are answers to three common questions about executors. 

Can an Executor Decide Who Gets What?  

No. In most circumstances, an executor cannot decide who gets what property. Executors are responsible for carrying out the testator’s wishes as outlined in the will.  

However, if the testator (the person who made the will) did not distribute all their assets in their will, the executor may be able to decide how to distribute the unassigned property.  

Can an Executor of a Will Be a Beneficiary?  

Yes. An executor can also be a beneficiary of the will. It is common for people to have their surviving spouse or children act as the executor of their estate. This choice can be cost-effective if you have a small or simple estate.  However, naming a professional executor can be beneficial for more complicated estates or for estates where there is not a friend or family member who can responsibly take on the role.  

How Long Does the Executor Have to Pay the Beneficiaries?  

The short answer is: It depends. The executor should work diligently to get each beneficiary paid as soon as possible.  

While the executor is responsible for ensuring beneficiaries receive the money or property they were left in the will, the probate process takes time and will delay beneficiaries from receiving an immediate payout. Depending on the size of the estate and the debts and taxes the estate owes, it may take anywhere from six months to more than one year for a beneficiary to receive an inheritance. Vermont probate usually takes at least a year, which is why avoiding probate is a preferred path for many in this state. 

If you are in the process of choosing an executor and want to know what mistakes to avoid, read our article What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Choosing the Wrong Executor

Creating a complete estate plan can be overwhelming. By scheduling an appointment to speak with us, you can ease some of the anxieties you may be facing in thinking about estate planning.