It's undoubtedly an honor to be asked to be an executor (or personal representative). Only the most trusted and responsible of family members or friends can fill this vital role after a recent death. Executors are not just named as an honorary move, though; they must address several tasks during probate to ensure a smooth process. Read on and learn some things that you probably don't know about executor duties.
You May Not Be Willing to Do the Job
While it can be a difficult decision, there are no laws that say you must take on the role of an estate executor. This job can be time-consuming and is likely to be a months-long experience. Most of the time, executors know about and agree to do the job ahead of time. However, things can change and unexpected health issues or other obligations could make doing the tasks required more difficult. If you don't agree to do it and no co-executor or backup person is named, the probate court will appoint someone.
You Might Get Paid for the Job
It stands to reason that no one goes into this job thinking of being paid but some executors do get paid. Probate law, which governs estate matters, varies widely from state to state. In the states that do allow executors to be paid, the pay is based on the value of the estate. Larger estates can take more time and effort to oversee. In cases in which the executor appointed is also a beneficiary of the will, which is common when a family member is involved, the state decides whether or not they should also be paid for their time.
You Could Be In Legal Trouble If You Are Careless
Don't worry, most don't get in trouble as long as they follow the probate lawyer's lead. In the cases where criminal fraud charges were filed, it was when the executor made decisions that benefited themselves at the expense of other parties (embezzlement). For example, they took estate property for themselves and other illegal acts.
You Are Not Officially an Executor After a Death
Until the court approves of you as an executor, you ostensively have no powers or duties to perform. However, many executors must take charge quickly in some instances to ensure that estate property doesn't disappear. Many families need help with planning for the funeral and burial, locating the will, and other issues.
Let the probate or estate lawyer for the deceased be your guide in what to do and when to do it. Speak to an estate lawyer to find out more.