Many people pride themselves on being trusted individuals. They would never betray a loved one’s confidence and would gladly handle personal matters for another person with the utmost discretion. You may consider yourself this type of person, and for that reason, a loved one may have asked you to become the executor of his or her estate.
You may feel honored that your loved one would trust you with such an important task, but before you say yes, you would be wise to go over some of the duties associated with this role. Though you would undoubtedly handle any necessary details in a responsible manner, it is important to keep in mind that you may not have the time or skills needed to effectively probate an estate.
Details to keep in mind
Depending on the complexity of the estate, the probate process could last years. In some cases, executors can feel as if they have a full-time job in handling all the necessary tasks associated with closing an estate. If you already have a full plate with a job, personal and family obligations, and other matters, accepting the role of executor may not be in your interests or the interests of the estate.
Additionally, probate is not as simple as reading the instructions in a will and carrying out those instructions. While this certainly is a part of the process, you would also need to assess your loved one’s remaining assets and debts, pay off any necessary creditors in order of priority, contact all beneficiaries, handle any complications that may arise (like an inheritance dispute) and distribute assets at the end of the probate process. You may also need to spend time in the courtroom to handle any issues that could arise.
You have time to get ready…right?
You may think that you can accept the role of executor because your children will be grown and you will have more time on your hands in the future by the time your loved one passes. However, this is not the mindset to have when considering this role. Unfortunately, your loved one could pass at any time, and banking on his or her passing well into the future when your life has changed is not a good approach to take with this decision.
Additionally, you will need to start your duties as soon as possible because gaining information on your loved one’s personal affairs can start now while he or she is still able to provide you with important details. Of course, you may feel as if you have nothing holding you back from acting as an executor, and if so, you may gladly accept the position. In such a case, you may want to remember that, when the time comes, you can enlist the help of an experienced California probate attorney.