What are my responsibilities as executor of estate in North Carolina?


Becoming an executor of an estate probably sounds intimidating for most North Carolina residents. While the position comes with a lot of responsibility, it’s not bequeathed lightly and the deceased most likely chose you for a reason.

What does an executor do?

An executor is someone picked by the recently deceased to, essentially, carry out the will. This means that the executor is in charge of:

  • Contacting beneficiaries
  • Any estate administration
  • Paying any debts or taxes
  • Making sure assets go through probate and into the beneficiaries’ hands

Estate administration includes obtaining the death certificate, filing the will in probate court, completing the paperwork required to transfer assets from the deceased to the beneficiary, as well as closing any accounts. As a result, being an executor can take a lot of time.

What can’t an executor do?

An executor is barred from completing certain tasks. For example, the executor can’t carry out the will before the deceased is actually dead. The executor also can’t do anything about an unsigned will or change the terms of the will.

The executor also has to be approved by the court after the person’s death. Certain states have laws about who can and can’t serve as an executor, but the general rule of thumb is that it can’t be anyone who might have ulterior motives.

How is an executor chosen?

Sometimes attorneys or other third parties are appointed to act as executors. However, someone might feel better having a close family friend or family member act as executor of their will.

Generally, this someone might be a family friend or even a previous business partner or spouse. Regardless of who the deceased picks, the executor always has the right to say no – and the beneficiaries or surviving family members can challenge it as well.