Though you should take it as a point of pride when someone asks you to execute his or her estate, carefully consider whether you are up to the task. Estate execution is a time-consuming, often stressful and rarely easy job.
Though there are certainly perks to executing a friend or loved one’s estate, there are also a few drawbacks. NerdWallet explores the top three drawbacks of being an estate executor.
Executing an estate is time-consuming
The time commitment involved in settling an estate varies considerably and depends on several factors. However, even small estates with little assets or debts take up to 12 months to settle. If you throw in substantial debts, considerable assets and contentious heirs, you may be stuck in the job for years. One survey found that the average estate took 16 months and 570 hours to settle, while a larger estate — meaning those worth $5 million or more — took 42 months and 1,167 hours to complete.
Legal trouble is a real possibility
As an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to the estate, the deceased and the beneficiaries, meaning you must act in any of the three parties’ best interests and in their interests only. That said, you may have to make judgment calls that could upset the heirs. If you cannot justify your decisions, the heirs may decide to sue you.
It is a great honor for someone to entrust you with his or her estate. However, before you accept, consider the implications the job can have on your emotional and physical well-being.