Friends or family come into the role as the executor of an estate in different ways. Some are asked by a friend or family member and are honored to have been considered. Some find out they were designated as the executor only after that person’s passing. Some step up to the plate amidst grief and sorrow while other surviving relatives mourn their painful loss. Regardless, executing an estate is not an easy task; there are legal, and often times personal, repercussions if something goes wrong.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “executorships gone bad” are rising. There are a number of possible reasons for this increase but tough economic times may be the driving force. As families struggle economically, disagreements over shares of inheritances or interpretations of wills are occurring more often. This adds to the heavy burden already placed on executors of an estate.
An executor administers a will through the probate court process which can take years (if the decedent created a trust during their lifetime, this significantly simplifies the process for an executor). The probate process includes accounting for assets, paying outstanding bills, and distributing property as indicated by the decedent’s will. Depending on a number of factors, the probate process can take as long as three years for larger, more complex or contested estates. While not impossible for a nonprofessional to handle, it is generally worthwhile for complex wills to be handled by a professional to avoid mistakes and contentious dealings between the executor and other family members.
If you are interested in learning more about the probate process or creating a plan to ensure your family members are well-prepared to handle your estate, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri for further information. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship