If you have been named executor of an estate, there are many executor duties you are going to be required to fulfill. The specifics of what is expected of you will vary depending upon the size and complexity of the estate. It is vital that you understand what will be required before you agree to serve as executor. This is important not only so the wishes of the deceased can be respected, but also because there could be consequences if an executor fails to perform his role properly.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can assist you in determining if you want to serve as executor of an estate. Our legal team can also help you to fulfill this role properly so you can comply with the laws and the instructions that the deceased person left behind. Give us a call as soon as your loved one has passed away so we can provide the assistance you need to choose whether to serve as executor of an estate or not.
What are Common Executor Duties?
There are many executor duties that you are going to be obligated to fulfill if you agree to serve as executor. If you’ve been named as executor in someone’s will, you have to file the right paperwork to start the probate process and the court will make a determination whether or not to appoint you. If you don’t want to be executor, the court can appoint a personal representative or estate administrator to probate the will instead. If you do want to be the executor, the court will usually respect the wishes of the deceased who named you as executor in the will, thus appointing you to take on this role.
Once you’re acting as the executor of an estate, you’ll need to fulfill lots of important executor duties including:
- Providing notice of the probate process. You must alert not only potential heirs or beneficiaries but also creditors and anyone who might have a legal interest in the estate.
- Managing all estate assets. This can be one of the hardest parts of serving as executor.
- Settling the estate during the probate process. You’ll have to attend court hearings and fulfill all legal steps.
- Addressing tax issues. It is up to you to take responsibility for filing appropriate tax forms.
- Transferring assets. You must facilitate the actual transfer of ownership, such as changing the deed of property.
This is just a brief list of some of the duties of an executor of an estate. Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can explain to you exactly what all of your obligations will be so you can decide if you’re equipped to serve as an executor or not.
What Happens if You Don’t Fulfill Your Executor Duties?
If you do not want to be executor and you decide not to accept the role, there are no adverse consequences for you or for heirs or beneficiaries. You can simply decline to take on the job, even if you were named as executor in a will. The court appoints an appropriate personal representative who is equipped to handle the probate process.
If you agree to be executor and you don’t fulfill your obligations, you could be removed as executor by the court. There are circumstances where heirs or beneficiaries will ask the court for you to be removed as executor if they do not believe that you are doing the tasks expected during the probate process.
In some cases, the consequences of not fulfilling your duties could be more serious. Executors have a fiduciary duty, which is the highest legal duty that exists. If you act in your own self-interest or otherwise breach your legal duty, heirs or beneficiaries could make a claim against you. If they can prove breach of fiduciary duty, you could become financially responsible for losses caused by the breach.
Getting Help from A Vermont Estate Planning Lawyer
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can provide you with information on executor duties if you have been named as executor of an estate and are trying to decide whether or not you want to take on all of this responsibility. If you decide you want to respect the wishes of the deceased and serve as executor of an estate, our legal team can help you throughout every step in the process to make serving as an executor as simple as possible. Finally, if there is a problem during the probate process, our attorneys are also here to help.
To find out more about how a Vermont estate planning lawyer can assist you with your role as executor, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online to talk with a compassionate and knowledgeable legal professional for help.