Families may not always agree on the administration of an estate and disputes may arise. When they do, family members may wish to be familiar with the duties of an executor and how they may challenge an executor who has violated their fiduciary duties.
Duties of an executor
Executors have fiduciary duties to uphold which requires them to act in good faith concerning the estate planner’s will. Executors are required to fulfill their duties with honestly and diligence. Executors have a variety of different duties including:
- Locating the estate planner’s assets, safeguarding the assets and managing the assets;
- Determining if probating the will is necessary based on the local laws and the value of the estate;
- Ensuring the will is filed with the appropriate probate court even if the will does not need to go through the probate process;
- Locating and contacting beneficiaries named in the will who will inherit money or property under it and ensuring the property goes to the appropriate beneficiary;
- Wrapping up the estate planner’s financial affairs including continuing to make necessary payments during the will administration process;
- Paying off any debts and creditors of the estate;
- Payment of final income taxes; and
- Ensuring the proper distribution of the estate planner’s property which will be done according to will and if property is not named in the will, according to the laws of the state.
The responsibility of an executor is significant. Executors are entrusted with ensuring the estate planner’s last wishes are fulfilled concerning the disposition of their property and assets. If that responsibility is not taken seriously or is violated, or the fiduciary duties of the executor are violated, it may lead to estate litigation which is a legal remedy family members should be familiar with if needed.