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What to know if you have been named as an estate executor

When you think about estate planning, you probably think about the person actually creating or updating the plan. You might think about creating a will, funding trusts and appointing people to make decisions on your behalf.

However, the people who create wills are not the only people who have something at stake when it comes to making sure wishes in an estate plan are properly carried out. If you have been named as the executor of an estate, you will play a critical role in ensuring a person's wishes are respected. Below are a few things you need to know if you are serving as the executor of a will.

  1. You have a fiduciary duty as executor. This means that the law requires you to act in the best interests of the decedent. Above all else, you will be expected to act honestly and diligently to ensure the terms of a will are properly carried out.
  2. It can be a full-time job. Serving as an executor means that you will need to find and manage the assets named in a will, find the beneficiaries named in a will and see that any financial affairs are addressed. This can include paying income taxes, paying off creditors and continuing payments of things like mortgages until a property is sold.
  3. You may not be the popular person in the room. Family members and friends of the decedent may not like the terms of a will or they may think you are being dishonest if they do not receive the property or payouts they expected. If this happens, they can take their anger and frustration out on you.

Considering all the responsibilities and tasks you must fulfill as an executor, it is important that you take this role seriously.

If you are creating an estate plan, take into account each of these factors and make thoughtful decisions on who you feel would be willing and able to take on this role. If you have been named as the executor, understand that you can seek support and guidance as you navigate this process.

In either case, talking to an estate planning attorney can help you understand the options in front of you and what needs to be done to properly administer an estate.

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