If you are named executor of estate, you have to think carefully about your willingness to fulfill this important responsibility after a death. Many people who are named by a deceased a executor of a will will decide that they want to fulfill this role because they want to honor the wishes of their departed loved one. However, it is not always practical or possible for a person who has been named as an executor to actually serve as an executor. In these cases, you need to know what will happen.
If you do not want to be an executor of estate, you do not have to do so and the probate process will continue with someone else appointed to fulfill the role. The Law Offices of James A. Miller can provide advice on the specifics of your situation and on who is likely to be named as executor of an estate if you decline to do the job. Give us a call today to find out more.
What if You Don’t Want to Serve as Executor of Estate?
When you are named executor of estate in a deceased person’s will, this does not automatically mean that you will become the executor in every case. The will has to be filed with the probate court and the probate court must determine if the person chosen by the deceased as the executor is both capable of serving and wants to serve in this role.
If the person who the deceased selected to serve as executor is not interested in taking on this obligation, the court will not appoint that individual as executor. Instead, if there is a backup executor named, then the court will appoint the backup executor. If no backup executor was selected by the deceased person, the court will appoint someone who is appropriate. Usually, this is another close relative of the individual who has passed away. The appointed person will be called a personal administrator or an estate administrator in these situations.
The personal administrator or estate administrator is going to go through the probate process, fulfilling the role an executor normally would. Nothing will change as far as the distribution of assets of responsibilities of the estate administrator and the wishes of the deceased will still be carried out.
Should You Serve as Executor of Estate?
When a deceased friend or relative names you as executor of estate, that person has placed a great deal of trust in you. Many people want to honor the person who has passed away by fulfilling their designated role. However, there is also a substantial risk of personal liability for taking on the role of executor. You need to make certain that you are truly willing and able to do what is required of you if you agree to be executor of a will so you do not cause financial harm to yourself or to the beneficiaries or heirs of the deceased person.
The executor of estate must take care of complex issues such as filing tax returns and paying any required estate tax out of the estate. The executor of a will also must comply with requirements for providing to notification to creditors and beneficiaries and with requirements for making a full accounting of the estate. An executor is also in charge of the management of the deceased person’s assets which are a part of the estate. This means taking on oversight obligations and control over all property, investments, and money that the estate owns.
If you agree to fulfill this role and you mismanage money or property, or are accused of using estate assets to benefit yourself, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit. You need to think seriously about this possibility as you make a decision on whether it is a good idea for you to serve as executor of estate or not.
Getting Help from A Massachusetts Probate Lawyer
If you decide that you wish to serve as executor of estate, you do not have to fulfill this responsibility entirely on your own. Every executor should hire a lawyer who can provide appropriate legal advice and who can take care of all of the technical aspects associated with managing an estate.
The Law Offices of James A. Miller can provide invaluable assistance to those who are asked to serve as estate executors. Download a free estate planning worksheet to find out more or give us a call at 508-799-8885 or contact us online today for personalized advice.