To answer your last question first, only the executor is entitled to the deceased’s financial records. However, the executor has a duty to provide the beneficiaries with any information they need to manage what they receive from the estate. In addition, if a dispute arises – for instance, if the beneficiaries challenge the executor’s account – they would have the right to discovery, meaning that they could ask questions and get copies of all financial accounts. In general, even if the executor technically controls financial records, it is better to be transparent. Lack of transparency breeds distrust.
In terms of how long to keep records, the rule of thumb for tax records is seven years. However, this does not mean you have to keep the records in paper form. You can scan the documents. The executor can dispose of other financial records as soon as the final account is approved by the probate court. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to continue to maintain digital records in case they are needed in the future.
For more information about an executor's duties, click here.