Avoid Some of the Common Mistakes Executors Make

Avoid Some of the Common Mistakes Executors Make

Acting as the executor for an estate is an important job, and one that carries a good deal of responsibility.

Oftentimes, people choose a friend or relative for the role, as the executor is entrusted with ensuring that the decedent’s last wishes are carried out. But a variety of pitfalls await the unwary. And the dangers can be exacerbated by the fact that the executor may well be dealing with grief as well.

Digital assets are a significant part of one’s personal, professional and financial life. Much financial business is transacted online, and the executor is likely to need access to digital assets and accounts. If permission isn’t awarded prior to death, the executor could be guilty of computer fraud for simply trying to do his or her job. While fiduciaries are responsible for carrying out their state-mandated duties, the law has failed to keep up with the technological age. Estate planning documents need to be updated to reflect the realities of the digital age.

The responsibilities that come with the executor’s job can be complex, and if the executor is a layperson, it’s important that they know when and where to seek help in carrying out their responsibilities. As a fiduciary, the executor is held to a high standard. Sometimes engaging professionals such as attorneys, accountants, financial advisors and/or a realtor is the most responsible course of action.

Managing expectations – both those of the executor and the heirs, is also critical. Even the simplest of estates can take months to settle, and more complicated estates will require more time even with well-crafted estate planning documents. Property in multiple states or countries can complicate matters, and it should also be noted that creditors have one year from the time of death to make claims against the estate.

For the layperson, it may be difficult to understand the myriad responsibilities of the executor. The executor is expected to make distributions to heirs and beneficiaries, inventory assets, maintain the value of assets prior to distribution, account for expenses incurred in settling the estate, and carry out all of these responsibilities while maintaining strict impartiality. Even if the executor seeks the assistance of professionals, the executor remains the fiduciary and responsible for the estate. As a fiduciary, the executor is also expected to maintain transparency and may be called upon to answer to heirs and beneficiaries for any declines in value of estate assets.

For more information, please read:
5 Mistakes Estate Executors Make | LifeHealthPro.com

DNA Analysis and Your Annual Physical: A Do or Don't Life Insurance: It's Not Just For Racecar Drivers