If you are like most people living in North Dakota, you would feel honored if asked to serve as executor of an estate. However, it is also wise to ask for some time to make up your mind. Being an estate executor is a major responsibility, and you may not have the time or resources to take on the work involved.
Your relationship with the testator
The person who creates an estate plan is known as a testator and you, as the executor, act on behalf of this person. Depending on your relationship, it may be difficult for you to understand how he or she wants the estate to be handled.
The estate’s complexity
Even with simple estates, you’ll have to file taxes, contact creditors, work with lawyers and communicate with beneficiaries. Being an executor might not be right for you if you are not comfortable with administrative and accounting tasks.
Compensation for your work
You are entitled to compensation for your work though you have the right to refuse compensation. Remember that you will be compensated only after you pay creditors from the estate’s proceeds: If the testator dies insolvent, you will likely not receive any compensation.
If the testator lives in a different state from yourself, you may have to travel to that state to handle estate-related issues. You may have to make several trips to settle the estate, and even when you aren’t there, you may have to work around time zone differences when making phone calls or planning meetings.
Risking personal relationships
Friends and family members of the testator be unhappy with the terms of the estate plan and may take their anger out on you. There is also the risk that others may be unhappy with how you are handling your duties. This can likewise result in conflicts, sometimes to the detriment of longstanding relationships. If you aren’t comfortable with these risks, consider turning down the role of executor.
Many executors can manage estates. However, the process is often more challenging than people realize. If you question your ability to do the work of an executor, you may be wise to decline the role as there is no penalty for doing so.