An executor is someone who is responsible for executing, or following through, on an assigned task or duty. The feminine form, executrix, may sometimes be used.


  • Overview 1
  • Executor pay 2
  • Insurance policies 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Musée d'Orsay)

An executor is a legal term referring to a person named by the maker of a estate for all purposes, and has the ability to sue or be sued on behalf of the estate. The executor holds legal title to the estate property, but may not use the title or property for his/her own benefit, unless permitted by the terms of the will.

A person who deals with a deceased person's property without proper authority is known as an executor de son tort. Such a person's actions may subsequently be ratified by the lawful executors or administrators if the actions do not contradict the substantive provisions of the deceased's will or the rights of heirs at law.

When there is no will, a person is said to have died intestate—"without testimony." As a result, there is no tangible "testimony" to follow, and hence there can be no executor. If there is no will or the executors named in a will do not wish to act, an administrator of the deceased's estate may instead be appointed. The generic term for executors or administrators is personal representative. In England and Wales, when a person dies intestate in a nursing home, and has no family members who can be traced, those responsible for their care automatically become their executors. Under Scottish law, a personal representative of any kind is referred to as an executor, using executor nominate to refer to an executor and executor dative to an administrator.

Executor pay

In some countries, such as the United States, an executor is automatically entitled to compensation for his or her services,[1] although this amount varies dramatically by jurisdiction. Unless specifically set by the will, this compensation is often determined by what is considered ″reasonable″ for the effort involved, although in a number of jurisdictions, the amount is instead set as a percentage of the overall estate. For example, in California the executor is entitled to 4% of the first $100K of estate value, 3% of the next $100K, and so on.[2] In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the executor is not automatically entitled to compensation, although compensation can be directed within the will or on application to a court.[3]

Insurance policies

In recent years, custom "executors' insurance" policies have entered the marketplace. These are currently available in countries including Canada, England, and Wales. They are often taken up by non-professional executors—typically friends or family of the deceased—who may be worried about potentially making an error during the probate process and/or uncomfortable about exposing themselves to unlimited personal financial and legal liability. Many find such cover an attractive proposition as the vast majority of wills allow reasonable expenses, such as the cost of the policy, to be reclaimed from the deceased's estate.

See also


  1. ^ "EstateExec - Executor's Guide". estateexec.com. 
  2. ^ "EstateExec - Executor's Guide". estateexec.com. 
  3. ^ Executor Pay: Fees for the Executor or Administrator of an Estate, duhaime.org retrieved 19 January 2012

External links

  • Executor of a will duties - A list of duties for a Will Executor (England & Wales only)
  • Executor Guide - Interactive guide for a Will Executor (United States & Canada only)
  • Canadian legislation and regulation (searchable by Province) governing executors of estates. Via CanLII.