Your Estate Plan's Quarterback

Part of writing a will is choosing an executor (in some states, this person is called “personal representative”). This person oversees the estate settlement process. Perhaps you have been named in a loved one’s estate plan. It’s an important job. Be sure you know what you’ve signed up for and who should fill the job for you.

As an executor, the main responsibilities are to:

  • Notify all interested parties and agencies of your loved one’s passing.
  • Hire an attorney, at the expense of the estate, to guide you through the probate process, if necessary.
  • Locate the will and file it in court.
  • Notify the beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Inventory all assets and have them appraised, if necessary.
  • Collect all debts owed to the estate.
  • Pay valid claims against the estate.
  • File tax returns.
  • Distribute assets and obtain receipts from the beneficiaries.
  • File papers to finalize the estate. 

How to Select the Right Person

Part of the will planning process is selecting the person to fill the critical role of executor — and who you think is up to the task. The best person for the job is someone who is responsible, organized, and trustworthy. Common choices are a spouse, an adult child, a sibling, or a close friend. 

Talk with the person you’re considering and make sure they are willing to accept the responsibilities. Part of your discussion should include your values and philanthropic vision so it’s clear what is important to you.

If you don’t have a friend or relative you trust to complete these duties, you can name a bank or trust company to settle your estate for a fee. Many banks have expertise administering estates, especially large estates.

Tip: It’s a good idea to select a backup person in case your first choice is unavailable or unable.

Need Help?

If you have questions or need help locating qualified professionals to assist you with your plan, please contact Meg Roberts at 202-434-2932 or We’d be happy to help, and can show you how you can extend your support of the Foundation through your will.