When someone names you the executor of their will, you become a fiduciary. That means you are liable for any mistakes that occur during estate administration, no matter how large or small.
While you must follow the terms of the will and other estate planning documents to the letter, there are other things executors must do to prevent liability issues and honor the wishes of the deceased. U.S. News & World Reports offers the following tips for executors to ensure you meet and exceed expectations in the role.
Keep beneficiaries informed
Keeping beneficiaries in the loop prevents them from becoming anxious about their inheritances. It also reduces potential conflict if they have questions or concerns that remain unanswered. Keep in mind, the process can take six months or more, depending on the size of the estate and the number of assets. Providing information to heirs each step of the way will only make your life easier.
Gather and secure assets quickly
One major aspect of executor duties is locating assets. You must also secure physical assets like homes and property as soon as possible. When it comes to homes, change the locks to prevent access by unauthorized individuals. You should also gather keys to all cars owned by the deceased and keep them in a secure place.
Seek help when needed
Some tasks involved in estate administration, particularly when it comes to real estate and taxes, are extremely complex. Legal issues can also arise if heirs dispute terms within the will, which means they might choose to contest. In either case, there is professional assistance available, and you must seek it out as needed. Doing so can spare you a lot of headaches and prevent you from facing a damaging liability issue.