You have always prided yourself on being a good friend, someone who was always there for their friends when they needed them most. So, when your dear friend asked you to be the executor of their estate, you stepped right up.
You thought that time would be decades in the future. But life doesn’t always work out that way. Suddenly, you find yourself in that role — and there appear to be some unforeseen complexities. You aren’t sure how to carry out your duties. What next?
Understanding your true role
Just the term “executor” can sound intimidating. But many estates are settled easily in about one year. Others can take much longer if there are legal challenges to the testator’s will or other problems arise during probate. In that situation, you may need to validate the will for the court.
Executors are both arbiters when the will is unclear and the go-between for the courts and creditors with the heirs. When there are challenges, you can easily get in over your head.
Before accepting the appointment, consider the heirs
It is better to be honest with a friend than fail to honor their intentions later. If the heirs are litigious or contentious with one another or with you, accepting the appointment of executor can open the door to a great deal of unnecessary drama in your life.
Consider your legal options
It is perfectly fine for an overwhelmed executor to seek the counsel of estate professionals who routinely perform these tasks. This allows you to ensure your friend’s estate is well-managed, the debts are paid and the disbursements are made to eligible beneficiaries.