Estate Administration – An Offer You May Want To Refuse

30 Nov    Estate Planning

It is nice to be trusted but agreeing to be an estate executor is a big decision.

So, you have been asked by a close friend or family member to be the executor of their estate when the time comes. Make no mistake, this is an honor that marks you as one who is held in high esteem, a truly trusted person. However, it sets you on a road that is fraught with landmines and roadblocks that you must surmount to successfully carry out your duties.

But, as Peter Parker’s uncle told the future Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. You can choose to decline but most people take the obligation seriously and accept. After all, what could go wrong? Simply put, a lot can go wrong and you should only accept with the full knowledge necessary.

So before you accept the responsibility (along with the possibility accusations of impropriety or incompetence by any disgruntled heirs as well as many, many headaches), consider the following:

  • Stepping down when the time comes – For a variety of reasons you may find the circumstances unworkable for various reasons and have to step down. The most likely result is that the court will likely appoint an estate administrator to take over the duties. Alternatively, another person could file an application to be the estate administrator with the court. You might feel bad about not honoring your acceptance of the role but your long term sanity may thank you.
  • Disputes with heirs – When someone dies, those that believe they are heirs may suddenly become territorial. They may enter the residence of the deceased and start helping themselves to what they want. They may expect a certain percentage of the estate. Some may even believe the estate is larger than it is. Basically, if you ever wanted to know what it was like to be in the eye of hurricane then being the executor of an estate is the job for you!
  • Time drain – The saying goes there are only so many hours in the day. If you lead a fairly normal life then you may have your time managed as well as can be expected. As the executor of an estate you will be expected to do many things that will eat up your free time as well as putting an added burden of living with calendar you had no part in setting.
  • Personal liability – As many in the United States know, if you think dying gets you out from under paying taxes you have another thing coming. Of course, the dearly departed is free of the burden as it now rests on the shoulders of the executor. And if the executor fails to pay all taxes before settling with the heirs, the executor can be personally liable for settling the outstanding debt with the IRS. As pointed out in an article we shared via our social media presences, the personal liability involved can be challenged by five mistakes many estate administrators make.

The reality is that when a beloved friend or relative dies there is always a quick succession of events such as the arrangements for a funeral will need immediate attention. Other duties like those of the estate executor can wait until you have had time to deal with the loss. Hopefully those who believe themselves to be heirs to any estate will remember this as well.  But if you are asked to be an executor of an estate you can always seek out guidance before giving your answer and that may be the most prudent decision of all.

Before you name an executor or administrator for your estate, let us educate you on proper estate planning that will make the process easier for all involved.