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Should I agree to serve as an Executor or Trustee?

It is up to you, but make sure you know what you are getting into.  An Executor or Trustee is generally compensated for their time and effort, but if you make mistakes, you may be held personally liable.  If you do agree to serve in this role, having a competent attorney is necessary. Agreeing to be an Executor or Trustee is not a decision to be taken lightly.  How big of a job it is depends on several factors:

A. How much property is involved.

B. How long the process is likely to take.

C. Whether there might be parties who question your decision.

D. Whether there are special considerations such as the care of under-age children or incapacitated parties.

As a fiduciary (both Executor and Trustee are in a fiduciary relationship with the beneficiary), you may be required to:

A. File a will with the court to start the probate process.

B. Locate and take control of assets.

C. Run a business or hire a manger.

D. Assume responsibility for the care of children or incapacitated parties.

E. Pay debts and collect proceeds of insurance policies.

F. Sell assets not used and reinvest the assets wisely.

G. File tax returns and prepare accountings for the probate process.

H. Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

The point is, if you are going to agree to serve in one of these roles, make sure to hire an attorney.  The estate you are serving will pay for it, and having an attorney can keep you from breaching any number of fiduciary duties the court will hold you to.

Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Administration