An executor, known as a personal representative in some states, is the individual appointed either through your will or by the court to handle the administration of your final affairs. The executor takes on an extremely important role and one that requires adherence to details, fiduciary duty and ability and willingness to communicate with creditors and potential heirs.
An executor has what is known as a fiduciary duty, which means that they have a legal responsibility to act according to your wishes and within the bounds of the law. Whether done unintentionally or intentionally, failure to act or taking certain actions that are not in line with an executor’s fiduciary duty can lead to liability and claims against them, such as:
- Distributing the estate’s assets improperly.
- Failing to pay creditors in the proper order or failing to pay creditors at all.
- Making distributions of estate assets to beneficiaries too early.
- Failing to pay taxes that are owed by the decedent’s estate.
- Attempting to or actually embezzling estate, property and money.
An executor can be removed from his or her duties and these actions or inactions can also cause significant damage to the estate itself by reducing the volume of assets inside. It is extremely important to think carefully about who you’ll name as executor before doing so. Contact a qualified estate planning attorney today to talk through the process of naming an executor and to learn more about what to discuss with your chosen executor before they step into this role. Reach out to schedule your first meeting with a Plymouth, MI estate planning law firm to get further support around your needs.