If someone asks you to serve as executor of his or her estate, what should you say? Before you decide on an answer, you will need to know what will be asked of you when you serve as executor. Executors, also known as personal representatives or estate administrators, have some specific duties when it comes to managing the estate settlement process. Beyond those specific duties, however, executors should have certain character traits that will allow them to carry out their responsibilities in an appropriate manner. Before you accept or decline a nomination to serve as executor, here are several questions you might want to ask yourself.
Do you have the time to serve as executor?
The estate settlement process can be complicated and time-consuming. Because of this, if you are asked to serve as a personal representative you need to ask yourself if you have the time necessary to perform the required duties. Some of these duties are relatively minor and will only take brief periods of time, while other duties might be far more time-consuming. For example, if you are the executor of an estate involved in estate litigation, you might have to spend a lot of time talking to attorneys, attending court hearings, or participating in other litigation related events.
In the best situations, the estate settlement process might take less than a year, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be spending the entire time administering the estate. Some days you might spend no time at all acting as an executor, while other days you might have spent several hours or more.
Do you have the ability to pay attention to minor details?
Many of the steps involved in the estate settlement process are detail oriented. For example, as an executor, it will be your responsibility to perform an estate inventory and keep track of all the property the decedent left behind. Sometimes this can be a painstaking and time intensive process. If you don’t have the patience to stick to the process, or don’t believe you have the ability to keep track the necessary details, you might want to decline the nomination.
Further, as executor you will be expected to comply with any relevant probate laws. While you should have a probate attorney who is there to guide you through this process, you will have to be able to make sure that you act appropriately.
Are you able to deal with conflict in a healthy way?
Not every estate settlement process involves litigation or conflict, but the possibility is there. If you don’t feel comfortable managing an estate that might be challenged in court, or which might involve family conflicts, serving as an executor might not be the best choice.
On the other hand, if you believe yourself to be levelheaded and responsible, serving as an executor is often a rewarding experience.