Many testators don’t know much about the roles that an executor must carry out when they appoint them to their role — and neither do the executors that agree to accept those roles.
Handling an estate isn’t easy when an executor is unprepared. They may make mistakes, and some errors are definitely more likely than others. Knowing what these are can help you avoid them if you’ve agreed to serve as the executor of someone’s estate.
One of the first responsibilities an executor has is inventorying a testator’s assets when they pass away. There’s a chance of valuable property not being accounted for and thus not being distributed to heirs after the probate case. If this happens, an executor may be held personally liable for covering the cost of any lost assets.
Failing to preserve an asset’s value
An executor must take reasonable measures to preserve or grow the value of an estate’s assets. An executor who fails to take action to preserve the value of a testator’s property for their heirs or makes unwise choices that ultimately cause those assets to depreciate in value may be held financially liable for the loss.
Failing to pay creditors appropriately
Another primary responsibility that executors have is notifying potential creditors of a testator’s passing. They must then pay any valid debts according to state laws. The same must occur in dealing with tax authorities and funeral services providers. One of the biggest mistakes novice executors make is not prioritizing these debts ahead of distributions to the estate’s heirs.
How to keep your legal liability low in your role as executor
Your role as an executor can be challenging. Learning more about the probate process and how to effectively administer an estate can eliminate your legal worries.