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Executor duties through estate administration and probate

| May 13, 2017 | Estate Administration & Probate

The old saying that no good deed goes unpunished may also be true for administrating someone’s estate. While it may not be exactly punishment, a person who is chosen to be the executor of a loved one’s estate may certainly feel burdened by the responsibility. Estate administration and probate can be challenging and frustrating, and those in Michigan who are chosen for the job should be aware of some of the requirements.

The first sacrifice an estate executor must make is time. Dealing with estate issues, like paying the bills and taxes of the deceased, gathering and valuating assets, and maintaining the property through the probate process, can certainly consume an executor’s time. Even if someone is selected to be a co-executor, the two will likely want to spend time together making decisions. Any disagreements with the partner will certainly take even more time to resolve.

Disagreements with the heirs is also something for which an executor should be prepared. Since an executor is responsible for protecting the assets until the conclusion of probate, he or she may have to deal with potential heirs who are eager to claim what they expect to inherit. Additionally, if the executor is left to make decisions about how the property will be distributed, feathers may be ruffled, and arguments are possible.

Choosing A Good Executor For My Estate

Designating a person to be the executor of your Michigan estate is a crucial decision, and while the good news is that you can choose almost anyone to be your executor, you still have to narrow down your choices according to important qualities that make a good executor. These characteristics will help ensure that your executor is both competent and ethically sound enough to take on the job of guiding your estate after you pass on.

First, as Farm Bureau Financial Services points out, your executor should make time to perform the duties of the office. Since going through probate or wrapping up the affairs of an estate may take almost a year to finish, your executor cannot be tied down to obligations that could make it difficult, if not impossible, to handle the job. Executor tasks can range from letting beneficiaries know about your wishes, to inventorying your assets, to even putting up a defense of your will in court.

Pay attention to how well your executor candidate organizes things. Does that person possess strong attention to detail, or does the person come across as sloppy and unfocused? Also see if your candidate keeps appointments. Since an executor must juggle a number of important tasks and keep to a busy schedule, look for any indication that your prospective executor is well organized or too disordered to handle the responsibilities.

The executor of an estate should also not show partiality toward any of the beneficiaries. Anyone that you choose will be tasked with carrying out your wishes while also making decisions that address the best interests of the beneficiaries. This is why a beneficiary of an estate is often not chosen as an executor. Likewise, your executor should be trustworthy, not someone that is likely to use your financial information for personal gain.

You also want a person that will not be run over by the job. Executors sometimes have to deal with creditors who falsely claim that the owner of the estate owes them money. Additionally, beneficiaries may contest a will or fight for greater shares of the estate. Your executor must be willing to deal with such conflicts. An executor should show diplomatic skills, but also be able to stand firm when needed.

For some people, skills and professional background are a top concern. Administrating an estate will require managing and protecting assets, so someone with financial acumen, like an accountant, can be a good choice. Another way an estate executor in Michigan can avoid many of these troubles is to enlist the assistance of an attorney. A lawyer who has experience in estate administration and probate can deal with many of the time-consuming issues of estate administration, such as contacting creditors and filing tax returns. Having an attorney means having legal support through any disputes with heirs.

This article is written to educate readers on estate administration and probate topics. It does not convey legal advice.

Source: investopedia.com, “5 Surprising Hazards of Being an Executor“, Barbara E. Weltman, Accessed on May 12, 2017

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