It’s a question few people expect to hear since not many take the time to plan their estates in the first place. However, if someone you love trusts you enough to consider you for the role of executor of their estate, you may feel honored and a little overwhelmed, especially if you are unsure of what the role involves.
Before you accept the very important responsibility of being the executor of someone’s estate, you would do well to investigate the duties of the job and have some serious and honest discussions with the testator, who is the person making the will.
Are you ready for the job?
Feeling honored is not enough to prepare you for the challenges you may face after your loved one dies and leaves you to administrate the estate through probate. Accepting the commitment may mean taking on tremendous responsibility. The following questions will help you determine the level of difficulty you will face:
- How large or complex is your loved one’s estate? Are there usual or hard-to-value assets for which the skill of a professional may be more appropriate?
- How complicated is the estate plan? Are there stipulations that may be challenging to untangle or enforce?
- Are their heirs who will likely cause problems, and is your loved one open to an honest discussion with those heirs as early as possible?
- What condition is your loved one’s estate in? Is your loved one willing to allow you to work with him or her to organize documents and simplify matters, such as creating asset inventories and updating debt information?
- How overwhelmed is your own life right now? Will your job, family obligations or health prevent you from committing the time and energy to the task?
- Do you intend to accept any payment the law allows the testator to provide for your services as executor?
- Is there anything in the will, the estate or the overall situation that makes you uncomfortable or that you feel you would not be able to deal with effectively?
Additionally, it is a good idea to do some self-evaluation to determine if you have certain qualities that will greatly serve you as an executor. For example, are you organized and knowledgeable, responsible to follow through and willing to ask for help when you need it? Reflecting on these and other questions and seeking the advice of a legal professional may help you make a solid decision about whether to accept the role of estate executor.