Your Role as Executor
Before diving headfirst into your executor duties, make sure you have a strong understanding of what the role will be like. An executor is someone a testator named in a will, or was appointed by the court during probate. As an executor, you will oversee the process of distributing someone’s estate and remaining assets based on the written will or state law.
Your role as an executor may last several months or up to a year, but maybe longer or shorter depending on the size and complexity of the estate. An executor has to act in good faith, and make decisions based on the decedent’s instructions or best interest. If an executor fails to fulfill this role fairly, then they may be removed by the court or beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may file a complaint to the court if an executor was found to have:
- Not been keeping proper financial bookkeeping
- Not communicating with beneficiaries or heirs
- Making distributions before the assets and estate are ready
- Attempting to make profit off the estate
- Engaging in behaviors out of self-interest or gain
- Improperly paying claims or outstanding debts
- Not informing creditors about decedent’s passing
- Not closing the estate appropriately
Serving as an executor is an important role that must be taken seriously. An executor who proves to be reckless with a decedent’s estate may experience consequences by the court and a removal of their position. Those who are new to being an executor may try their best but can fall short because they just aren’t familiar with law. You don’t have to have studied law to be a great executor, but if you need help, there are professionals who can assist you. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for executors to have a lawyer to turn to for questions, concerns, and assistance in writing their estate plan.