Serving as an executor is often a huge honor. It’s a show of trust and good faith for a friend or family member to bestow you with this responsibility, being a clear indicator that you’re a person of integrity.
But being the executor of someone’s will is a serious job. It’s important to look into all that the role entails before accepting – as flattering as it may be to have yourself chosen for the task.
Commonly referred to as a personal representative, the executor of a will is a role that might span a little as a week. Other times, it takes years before you’re completely free of the responsibility.
What does the executor do?
The executor’s main job is settling a person’s estate after they’ve passed away. This includes paying off any owed taxes or debts and overseeing the distribution of assets to beneficiaries named in the will. It’s up to the executor to make sure everyone gets their fair share, which is sometimes a difficult process as relatives and friends deal with contention while still going through the mourning process.
Sometimes, though, estate administration is a completely straightforward process. This all depends on the state of the will: whether or not it was still current at the time of the individual’s death or if it’s contested. Another key factor bringing potential complications for executors is how difficult it is to locate the deceased person’s assets.
When taking on the duties of an executor becomes more challenging, it may involve a wide variety of busywork that’s often not as glamorous as the job might have originally appeared. Executors are often kept busy calling up various legal resources, driving to courthouses to obtain the necessary documentation, and going through troves of financial records.
Sometimes, you’ll have to dig through an individual’s personal life going back many years, so you should be prepared for a deep dive. This is why it’s highly advisable to only take on the executor role for someone you are completely comfortable with.
Being asked to serve as the executor of a person’s estate is a huge responsibility, but it can be highly rewarding. The key to succeeding at the task – and making the right decision whether to accept it at all – is understanding all the goes into the job and finding out beforehand what you’re getting into with the person who’s asking you.