An Experienced Probate Attorney Explains the Role of Executor

Your brother has asked you to be the executor of his estate, and you have no idea how to respond to that question. It’s an important decision to make, and before you do so, you should have a good understanding of the duties involved. Keep in mind that no two estates are alike, so your role may be more involved than the general duties listed here.

Executor Duties

Generally, the basic duties you’ll be asked to do are:

  • Make a list of the beneficiaries.
  • Manage the finances of the estate, including paying all debts of the descendant.
  • File tax returns, if applicable.
  • Keep records and provide the court an accounting at the end of the estate liquidation.
  • Distribute the assets to the estate beneficiaries.

Fiduciary Relationship

Because you have a fiduciary relationship with the estate, you must act with reasonable care, make good faith decisions and maintain confidentiality. You must pay all outstanding bills and collect all assets that are to be probated. At all times, you should follow the instructions indicated in the last will and testament.

If you fail to perform these duties you can face causation and punitive damages. It is important to note that even though you accept the role now, you can always ask the probate court to relieve you of your duties if you find the job too overwhelming, or you otherwise cannot serve as executor.

For more questions on the executor role, drafting a will or other estate matters, contact us for a consultation.

Retain an Estate Litigation Attorney When Seeking to Remove an Executor

If you have an interest in a deceased family member’s estate and you are finding issues with the executor of the estate, you have the right to challenge the executor of the will. This must be done by initiating a court proceeding. Here, our attorneys experienced in estate litigation explain some of the circumstances to warrant such a challenge.

Proving Unsuitability

In order to be successful in removing the executor from the estate, you must prove unsuitability. You need to prove that a conflict of interest exists, or that the named executor is somehow legally ineligible to serve as the executor of the estate.

In order to be legally ineligible, the executor must be involved in another complex litigation or be mentally incompetent for the role of executor. Other reasons for removal include the executor stealing from the estate, wasting way the assets or refusing to follow the estate accounting rules.

The Court Proceeding

During the court hearing that will determine if the removal is warranted, your attorney and the executor’s attorney present their case as to why the removal should or should not happen. An estate audit may be necessary to help establish the executor’s legal ineligibility.

The court won’t remove an executor for frivolous reasons. Even if the executor and the interested party don’t get along, if the executor is argumentative and rude, if he withholds certain information or takes a long time to settle the estate, those actions allow are not enough to warrant the executor’s removal.

If you’re looking to initiate an executor’s removal or have other estate litigation issues, contact us for a consultation.