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Could being the executor of someone’s will cause you legal problems?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2021 | Probate |

You were honored that your friend or relative asked you to be the executor of their will, and you’re absolutely willing to step into that role now that the time has come.

However, you need to be conscious of the fact that there could be a lot of different issues in play with an estate as it moves through probate. Your responsibilities are vast, and that could expose you to some legal liabilities.

What kinds of problems do executors experience?

Some of these you may more-or-less anticipate, but others may come as a total surprise. The biggest issues executors usually face are:

  • Unhappy heirs: It’s your job to secure the deceased’s estate, which may mean changing the locks on their home and packing up valuables. That’s probably going to make some of the heirs unhappy — especially if they feel they have been promised certain family heirlooms or valuable items. (Worse still: You could fail to lock up the estate and find yourself responsible for replacing the value of any missing items to the rightful heir if someone else walks off with a few things.)
  • Taxes and debts: The debts and taxes owed by the deceased have to be paid before any other assets are disbursed. There are some very specific rules about the process (including which bills take priority). If you fail to manage the estate correctly and pay the heirs before the bills, you could be on the hook for the remaining debts.
  • Disputes with co-executors: Maybe you and your brother have been named co-executors of your father’s estate. In theory, that’s fine, but the reality may be less-than-rosy. If you and your brother can’t agree on how to handle certain aspects of the estate, you could be headed for legal entanglements.

Being the executor of someone’s estate as it moves through probate can be a time-consuming, frustrating experience if you aren’t prepared for it. Working when an experienced advocate here in Elizabethtown can make the entire process much easier and less convoluted.