Executor Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Executor, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Executor?

n. the person appointed to administer the estate of a person who has died leaving a will which nominates that person. Unless there is a valid objection, the judge will appoint the person named in the will to be executor. The executor must insure that the person’s desires expressed in the will are carried out. Practical responsibilities include gathering up and protecting the assets of the estate, obtaining information in regard to all beneficiaries named in the will and any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate, approving or disapproving creditor’s claims, making sure estate taxes are calculated, forms filed and tax payments made, and in all ways assisting the attorney for the estate (which the executor can select).

History and Meaning of Executor

The term "executor" has been used for centuries, dating back to medieval England. In those times, the executor was responsible for carrying out the last wishes of a deceased person, just as they are today. The word "executor" comes from the Latin word "exequi," which means "to follow out."

Today, an executor is a person named in a will who is responsible for carrying out the deceased person's wishes as stated in the will. This includes paying debts and taxes, distributing assets, and ensuring that the beneficiaries named in the will receive their intended inheritances.

Examples of Executor

  1. John was named as the executor of his father's will and is now responsible for settling his father's estate.
  2. The attorney for the estate recommended that the executor seek professional help in handling the financial aspects of the estate.
  3. The executor filed a petition with the court to have the will admitted to probate.

Legal Terms Similar to Executor

  1. Administrator: A person appointed by the court to handle an estate when there is no will or the will does not name an executor.
  2. Trustee: A person appointed to manage assets held in a trust for the benefit of beneficiaries.
  3. Personal Representative: A legal term used in some states to describe the executor or administrator of an estate.