Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Executor?

It can be an honor to have been so trusted by a loved one that you were named their executor. You might even have been surprised by the news. You may also feel trapped or daunted by the decision, which you may have had no part of. The thing is, it is up to you whether or not you want to accept the role of executor. Let's take a look at what it takes to be an executor, and whether this is a task you are up for.

First of all, you have to determine if you are legally qualified to be an executor. The laws pertaining to your case will depend on the various state laws that are in play. Usually speaking, a state will say that no one convicted of a felony can be an executor. There are even some states where you may not be allowed to be the executor if you live in a different state. A probate attorney can help you understand the regulations that bear on your case.

Then, you will have to understand what an executor does, and what personality qualities are most conducive to the job. Ideally, the executor will be organized, thoroughly trustworthy, organized, and dedicated to fulfilling the role. He or she must also be able to interact well with other people (particularly the beneficiaries). The good news for many people is that financial and legal expertise are not required. That is why there are so many professionals who can fulfill these roles, probate lawyers, accountants, etc. You do not have to worry about paying them either, because estate funds will cover these costs. Time may be an important consideration, however, as you may need enough time over the coming months and even over the next year to perform your duties. Or, as often happens, a probate attorney can be given the reins and finish most of the tasks. Other executors often get help from a probate lawyer at times when they run up against a complicated problem.

You will also have to contemplate how tricky the task will be. If you were named executor of a smaller estate, free of complicated taxes, then the job may not be so difficult after all. Perhaps you were already included in helping that person with their financial matters. But what if you do not know the decedent's finances? It will take that much longer to find crucial information and to determine where things stand. The difficulty of the role could be further escalated if you live in a state where the laws still have not been streamlined.

You may also have to assess issues such as your being named as a beneficiary, especially a beneficiary that is set to inherit a great bulk of the person's estate. If you are practically the sole inheritor, then being an executor furthers your interests, perhaps making the process easier on you. But if you are faced with multiple other beneficiaries, there are further things to consider. This could mean assessing whether the travel time involved will be too costly, determining whether relatives will trust you enough since you are inheriting, and deciding whether other beneficiaries would create trouble. Would it be worth it to have a co-executor, or would this only worsen the drama? What if a co-executor was already named by the deceased person? You will have to think over how well you can cooperate with the co-executor.

You might also have to consider if you would lose out on too much work time in order to act as executor. You can find out if you can legally be paid something for fulfilling this role. Then if you are seriously thinking about declining the role, you will have to first consider who would take your place. Is there an alternate executor named in the will? If not, then someone has to ask probate court to be created executor, or the court will pick a new executor itself. You will have to consider whether the person named, or the person who would want to fill in for you, would be qualified for the job.

Despite the potential difficulties of this important role, many people have found it calming to be the executor, to fulfill the person's wishes by helping settle their affairs. If you are considering whether to accept the role of executor, or if you are acting in this position now, you can always find the counsel and legal help you need when you contact an experienced probate lawyer.