A good friend asked you to be the executor of their estate. Or perhaps was your parents or a sibling. You feel honored that they trust you with such a big responsibility.
But you’re not exactly sure you’re the right person for the job. Should you agree to handle their estate when the time comes — or take a pass?
Things to consider before agreeing to be someone’s executor
It’s important to take a step back and look at all of the possible problems you could encounter as an executor before you take the job. Here’s what you need to consider:
- How’s your age and health? If you’re getting on in years or have complicated health issues, you may not be available to serve as their executor. The job could also simply be too demanding for you.
- Do you have the time? You’re already pressed for time in your daily routine due to your career or familial obligations, so do you really have the time to spare for this job? Handling someone’s estate is neither easy nor quick.
- Do you live locally? If you live in a different state than your parents, for example, you could end up with a lot of unexpected complications and expenses as you travel back and forth to handle their estate.
- Can you manage the heirs? Sometimes, family dynamics can be explosive following a death. If you aren’t up to the drama or conflict, it may be wiser to pass on the job.
- Is there a co-executor? If so, that means everything has to go through you both. How do you feel about working with the other person? What are your personal dynamics with them? If you don’t get along or you don’t think they’re reliable, that could be a problem.
- Do you understand your liabilities? As the executor, you have to preserve the estate’s assets, pay the bills, file the deceased’s final taxes and distribute inheritances. If anything goes wrong, you could be on the hook financially for the estate’s losses.
Ultimately, if you decide to accept the role, don’t hesitate to reach out for legal assistance as the estate moves through probate. That’s often the best way to minimize potential problems.