A recent article by Pamela Yip, a personal finance writer, warns that accepting an appointment as an executor of an estate should be carefully thought through. Yip notes that many people accept this appointment without truly understanding the magnitude of the responsibility. If an executor does not carry out his or her duties properly, the beneficiaries or other interested parties may be able to sue for breach of fiduciary duty. These duties may include:
- Collecting and managing estate assets.
- Paying the debt, taxes, and expenses of the estate.
- Distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries.
Yip advises that potential executors consider whether they have the time and skills to serve in this role. Estate administrations can take 18 months, or even longer, to complete. Every estate administration is different, however. Some are more complicated and therefore can become all-consuming for the executor. In addition, since the duties of the executor include managing the income and expenses of the estate, potential executors should consider whether they are good with handling finances. This includes having the ability to make sometimes difficult business decisions.
Yip advises potential executors to take the following steps:
- Ask what types of property are owned by the individual.
- Ask where the property is located.
- Ask whether there is a business interest involved.
- Ask whether the individual has an accountant, attorney, and professional advisor available to assist with the administration process.
- Ask whether the individual has any debts that will need to be paid.
- Consider whether there are any family conflicts that could give rise to difficulty during the administration process.
Contact our office of experienced Anaheim trust attorneys today for further information. Call our office at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.