Resources home

Understanding The Executor's Role: What Happens After Someone Passes Away?

Understanding The Executor's Role: What Happens After Someone Passes Away?

We demystify the Executor's role, the important tasks he or she has, and why it's important to pick the right person.

Team Yellow



min read

July 26, 2023

A Will is essentially a legal document that comes into effect only after the death of the Testator (the person who has written the Will). While the Testator lives, he can rewrite or modify his Will as many times as he likes. The Beneficiaries of the Will do not possess any legal rights to the property during the lifespan of the Testator. The Executor of a Will becomes relevant only after the Will-maker’s demise. In this article, we’ll shed light on the role of the Executor; the important tasks and responsibilities he or she has in handling affairs after the Testator’s death, and just how crucial it is to pick the right person for the job.

Who Is An Executor?

An Executor is someone who is appointed by the Testator and is entrusted with the duty of giving effect to the Will after his / her passing. There may be more than one Executor to a Will, and they can be directed to act as co-Executors, or independently, by the Testator. The Executor basically serves as a Trustee, or legal representative, of the Testator.

What Are The Duties Of An Executor?

The vital role of the Executor comes into play after the death of the Testator. The Executor is bestowed with the trust and responsibility of ensuring that all the wishes and commands of the deceased Testator are honoured by all the parties involved in the Will. The primary duties of an Executor can be summed up as follows:

  • Obtain custody of the original Will and other relevant official documents of the Testator, like the death certificate, identification documents, property and asset ownership records.
  • Fill out all the necessary forms in order to transfer the assets of the Testator, like savings accounts in a bank, fixed deposits, shares, and mutual funds. The Executor might also be required to dispose of any property or belongings of the Testator, as specified in the Will, and add the proceeds to the estate for distribution.
  • Make an inventory of the entire estate of the Testator by preparing a statement of assets and identifying all outstanding liabilities.
  • Receive debts owed to the Testator and pay off all legitimate creditor claims on priority and diligently. The Executor needs to keep a record of all transactions done on behalf of the Testator. The Executor also has a right to sue on behalf of the Testator, if the need arises.
  • File the tax returns for the deceased under the Income Tax Act, 1961. This particular task can be quite challenging for Executors.
  • Provide for the funeral costs and expenses from the estate of the Testator. If there are any directives laid down by the Testator in the Will regarding the observance of any specific funeral arrangements or rites to be observed, the Executor will need to carry them out with the assistance of the heirs, if required.
  • Apply for probate, as applicable in the cities of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
  • Get the Will registered, if required, by the official authorities. For example, in some instances of property mutation, a registered Will may be preferred. Though Will registration is not mandatory, an Executor under Section 40 (1) of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 is permitted to register the Will after the death of the Testator.
  • Finally, interpret the Will as intended by the Testator and administer the settlement and distribution of assets as instructed in the Will to the correct Beneficiaries.

Orchestrating The Distribution: The Executor's Role In Bringing The Will To Life

As you can see from the above list, the role of the Executor is far from trivial. You can think of an Executor as the conductor of an orchestra. Just as a conductor brings together different musicians, instruments, and sections to perform a symphony, an Executor brings together various elements of a Will to ensure everything is carried out smoothly.

The Executor's role is like the conductor's, overseeing the entire process, coordinating with Beneficiaries (the musicians), managing assets (the instruments), and making sure that each aspect of the Will is executed according to the Testator's wishes (the symphony). Executors play a crucial role in harmonising the different parts and ensuring that the final performance, or the distribution of assets, is done in accordance with the Testator's wishes.

Despite the importance of this role, there is no law in India that mandates the appointment of an Executor by the Testator during the writing of his or her Will. The advantages of appointing a trusted person, however, are undeniable, and make it a popular practice.

Can A Beneficiary Be An Executor?

A Beneficiary could be an Executor, especially in case of nuclear families. But having a neutral third party who holds no interest in the property can help to avoid any potential family feuds and ensure a fair operation, especially in cases of large families with complex wishes.

By appointing an Executor in your Will, you can save your loved ones from the hassle of handling administrative tasks themselves. Without an Executor, the court may assign an administrator, which can introduce unfamiliarity and potential complications. It's therefore crucial to choose an Executor you trust, someone who will act in good faith, and fulfill their obligations. In case of any misconduct, the Beneficiaries have the right to take legal action against the Executor. Having a reliable Executor ensures a smoother and more secure process for the distribution of your estate.

How You Can Plan Ahead To Help Your Executor & Family

The post-death process can be overwhelming and complex, especially when dealing with various types of assets in different jurisdictions. Executors who lack experience in handling such matters may face additional challenges. It can take up to three years before the rightful heirs receive their assets, prolonging the entire procedure.

That's where Yellow Smart comes in. We are here to make the process smoother and more efficient. Yellow Smart stands for Smooth Asset Recovery and Transfer, and our aim is to guide Executors through the specific procedures and requirements of the Will administration process.

Administering a deceased person's estate is a weighty responsibility. It is crucial to ensure that all necessary steps and obligations are met before distributing the assets to the Beneficiaries. Our team of specialists are able to provide comprehensive support and guidance at every step along the way.

Here's how we can assist you:

Knowledge and Support: We will familiarise your Executor with their rights and responsibilities, ensuring they are well-informed through the entire process.

Probate Assistance: We will guide them through the complex process of applying for probate, or letters of administration, streamlining the legal aspects.

Financial Asset Management: We will assist them in contacting banks and financial institutions to handle the deceased's financial assets, ensuring a smooth transfer.

Tax Compliance: Our experts will help your Executor in filing tax returns and managing any financial liabilities of the deceased, ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

Will Registration: If required, we will guide them through the formalities of registering the Will, ensuring legal validity.

Asset Identification and Cataloguing: We will help them identify and document all the assets owned by the deceased, ensuring a comprehensive estate inventory.

Additional Support: With 500+ on-ground agents pan-India, we are here to provide any necessary assistance to help your Executor successfully fulfill their duties and distribute the estate.

With Yellow Smart by your side, you can help your loved ones navigate the complexities of estate administration with confidence and efficiency, ensuring a smooth transition of assets even after you’re gone.

Team Yellow


min read
July 26, 2023


Legal Knowledge

Important People In A Will


Estate Planning

Succession Planning

Financial Planning

Will Making

Secure Will


Financial Education

No items found.