Assessing your ability to be an estate executor
Taking on the role of estate executor may seem like an honor, and the person who asks you to handle these duties certainly does honor you with the request. However, it is also a tremendous responsibility, and it may place you at risk of personal loss at worst and great inconvenience at best.
While these factors alone should not frighten you into refusing to accept the task of handling someone’s estate after they die, it should give you reason to take your time before making a decision and to learn as much as possible about what the law will expect of you as an estate executor. After weighing these matters carefully, you may feel better equipped to make a responsible decision or to seek the guidance and assistance that will help you perform your duties effectively.
Are you ready for the job?
Handling a loved one’s estate means protecting and managing the estate’s assets, dealing with creditors, filing taxes, and assuaging other beneficiaries. An honest assessment of the situation is the first step to making your decision. While your emotional attachment or sense of duty to your loved one may prompt you to accept the role of executor, you should first determine how qualified you are to do the job well. Some questions to consider include the following:
- How complex is the estate, and will its unusual or intricate assets, debts or heirs increase the chances of complications or disputes?
- How many heirs are involved, and will any of them be difficult to find or deal with?
- Does the testator plan to leave unequal distributions to heirs or to disinherit a child, which will certainly leave you with a difficult situation to referee?
- What shape is the estate in at present, and will the testator allow you to work with him or her to organize and prepare the estate in a way that will minimize any complications for you?
- Does your own lifestyle allow you the time and energy to devote to the months of probate the estate may require?
- Will the fee your loved one pays for your duties fairly compensate you for the amount of time and effort you expect to offer to the job?
These are only a few of the important matters to consider before giving your answer to your loved one. However, you may find that, even after careful consideration, your job as estate executor is too overwhelming or confusing to handle alone. Fortunately, you always have the option of turning to a legal professional for assistance, especially one who is well-experienced in handling Florida probate matters.