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What is an Executrix?

By S. Ashraf
Updated May 16, 2024
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Executrix is a legal title used to refer to a woman who is either designated in a will or appointed by a probate judge to handle the disposition of the property belonging to a person who has died. This legal terminology is gender-based and only used for females serving in the role of the executor of an estate. A male performing the same duties is simply referred to as the executor.

Just like the male executor, the executrix must take over all aspects of handling the estate of the deceased. Essentially, her job is to see to it that all the directions and provisions in the will are carried out as specified by the will's creator or as required by law. Initially, she will need to bring together all the property belonging to the estate to determine its size.

Depending upon how large the estate is, it may or may not need to go through probate. Laws concerning the size of estates that are required to go through probate vary from state to state. If it must go through probate, the executrix files the will in court. She is responsible for notifying beneficiaries of the proceedings and managing all the affairs of the deceased during this period. The executrix pays the debts of the estate, files all required taxes, sets up any trusts that may have been directed by the will, and distributes property to the beneficiaries.

Once the property has been distributed, the executrix must file a final report with the court that summarizes all acts taken by her during the probate process. She provides a copy of the report to the beneficiaries who may then file legal objections to any of her actions. If there are no objections, the court will approve the closing of the estate and discharge the executrix from further duties.

Often, though, an estate does not have to go through probate. When that happens, the female executor directly carries out the wishes of the deceased as expressed in the will. She pays the debts of the deceased, makes any charitable bequests, and distributes the property to the beneficiaries.

Executrix is a title that still appears on court documents in some states. In everyday use, differentiating between executors on the basis of gender is something of an anachronism. An executrix is more frequently simply referred to as an executor. The generic term "personal representative" is also commonly used to apply to executors regardless of gender.

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Discussion Comments

By Sunny27 — On Jun 08, 2011

@Sneakers41 -I know what you mean. I think that if an independent executrix would have been used in this case it might have made things a little easier. I think that the way the will was written caused a lot of confusion because you would think that once you inherit something it is essentially yours, but in this case it was not.

This is why life estates are so complicated. I think that the father should have sat down with his daughters and explained what he wanted to do and then he would have seen the error in his ways and maybe have had a lawyer set up his will a different way that would have been more equitable to the rest of the siblings.

I think that wills can have a lot of landmines and you have to really have a thick skin to be able to perform executrix responsibilities properly.

By sneakers41 — On Jun 05, 2011

@BoniJ- I agree with you and I have to say that I was reading about a case that was very complicated and caused a lot of drama for the surviving family members.

In this case, the father died leaving a life estate clause for his personal residence. He made the eldest daughter the executor of the will and this was another point of contention for the siblings because the father stipulated that this home was to go to the eldest daughter and upon her death the home would then go to her niece so that that home would stay in the family.

The daughter inheriting the property felt that the home was hers and she should be able to do whatever she wanted with it because she also offered the other two sisters $40,000 each which would have been their portion of the home.

This was generous because the home according to the will belonged to the eldest daughter and did not split the proceeds of the home. However, the other sisters were arguing over the home because they felt that they were entitled to have their children inherit the home upon the death of the eldest sister.

It was a real mess, and if the life estate clause was not placed on the home, I think that the sisters would have split the proceeds of the home and that would have been it.

The problem here also revolved around the fact that the eldest daughter’s husband felt that he should be able to inherit the property should his wife pass away.

By BoniJ — On Jun 05, 2011

Trying to fulfill the requests of a will and settling an estate can be a horrendous time for the executrix. Sometimes, the deceased's will states that all her/his personal property and household goods should be divided fairly within so many days.

If the siblings are not reasonable and cooperative, and nobody knows what the deceased meant by fairly, there could end of being a lot of quibbling over jewelry and other special items.

It's much better if the person writing the will would decide, before death, which beneficiaries should get which "special stuff" and write it down. Give some thought to what the executor or executrix might have to face.

By PinkLady4 — On Jun 05, 2011

Being an executrix of a will can be a very difficult and confusing job. She does receive some pay for her efforts, but sometimes that doesn't compensate for the difficulties.

When a will is written by an attorney or at least checked over by one, chances are things will be clear. Some people make out their will on an internet form and don't have it read by an attorney. Or they may just write one out on their own on a piece of scrap paper.

The will might be confusing, or downright contradictory. The executrix might have to spend a lot of time and attorney's fees trying to figure out the intentions of the writer of the will. Quarrels from siblings and other beneficiaries can put everyone in a tizzy.

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