When a family member chooses you to be the executor of their will, you agree out of love and respect for that person. Being selected as an estate executor means that your loved one trusts you enough to oversee the distribution of their assets and to see to their final instructions.
Agreeing to be an executor
Despite the honor of being chosen as an estate executor, you should know the kind of burden this responsibility creates. Even a relatively straightforward estate could lead to complications over asset distribution, debt collection and disputes among family members. Here are some of the reasons why consenting to be the executor of a loved one’s estate can be more complicated than you think:
- The length of the probate process: Probate typically takes between six months to a year to complete, with some sources saying nine months is a workable average. This lengthy time can interfere with many aspects of an executor’s personal and professional life.
- Family/heir/co-executor disputes: As an executor, you may become the target of family discord, dissatisfaction and frustration from merely carrying out your legal responsibilities and many necessary functions. If the heirs are your members of your family or loved ones, this could create unwanted tension in your relationships and dynamics with those people. If there is more than one executor in a will, there could be conflicts related to the disagreements in the delineation of responsibilities.
- Order of precedence: Executors may be unaware of the ‘order of precedence,’ as it relates to what debts and financial obligations require payment first. For instance, credit debt may come after tax obligations.
- Real estate: Real properties are often the most significant parts of an estate. If the heirs want to sell a property to distribute those assets amongst many individuals, the sale of a property could include some limitations. It is common in real estate to make renovations to a property before the sale to improve appearances and property features. Using estate assets for this purpose may cause conflicts with those parties with claims on estate assets.
Finding the legal support for executor responsibilities
As an executor of your loved one’s will, you’ll need all the legal assistance you can get. Contact a lawyer with experience in estate planning to guide you through this complicated process.