When someone trusts you to handle their estate, you may feel both completely honored to be chosen — but watch out. While the process of handling an estate from start to finish usually goes smoothly, the job can be somewhat overwhelming if you aren’t prepared.
Here are the problems nobody realizes that an executor can face (unless they’ve been down that road before):
- Heirs with sticky fingers: Part of the executor’s job is making sure that the deceased’s assets are all collected and secured before they’re disbursed. If you’re too trusting, however, one or more of the heirs may decide to help themselves to mom’s jewelry or dad’s antique watches. If valuables go missing, you may be held to account for them.
- Heirs that are disagreeable: You’re only doing whatever the deceased wished, so you might believe that the heirs will respond accordingly. Most will — but some may accuse you of playing favorites or something equally unpleasant. Others may demand that you fork over their inheritance right away, and get angry when you say that you can’t.
- Personal liabilities: If you don’t handle the estate properly, you can end up on the hook for things like unpaid taxes that are due or other out-of-pocket expenses that are hard to recoup.
- Stress and strain: Handling an estate can be very time-consuming. There are usually multiple organizations — everything from the Social Security Administration to credit card companies — that have to be contacted. Forms have to be completed. Court filings have to be made. All of that can be very stressful for the executor.
You don’t have to handle the job on your own, however. Executors frequently turn to experienced attorneys for assistance with the probate process. If you’re feeling the pressure due to someone’s estate, it may be something to consider.