5 Surprising Hazards of Being an Executor

5 Surprising Hazards of Being an Executor

5 Surprising Hazards of Being an Executor

It’s an honour to be asked to represent the executor of a loved one’s estate. Whether you’re a close friend with no vested interest in the will or a relative who stands to act as both executor and beneficiary, there are a few things you should be aware of ahead of time.

  • Legal Responsibilities

Being named the executor of someone’s estate means that a legal responsibility to their estate is dropped on your shoulders. While plenty of wills can be executed and actioned without any major hurdles, there is always the risk that your role will entail much more involvement than you imagined. 

Failing to carry out your legal responsibilities to the testator’s estate can result in legal consequences. This role is more than a figurehead, and it’s worth understanding that things may not always run smoothly. 

  • Managing Family Disputes

While it is not your responsibility to resolve major will disputes or mediate complex family dynamics, your role as the executor of the estate will mean that you are likely the first person to encounter any trouble brewing between two or more beneficiaries – or relatives who were not named in the will, but feel they should have been. 

So, while it’s important to understand the limitations of your role as an executor – for instance, you are not a therapist, a legal professional with expertise in disputing a will, or an impartial mediator – you may need to be prepared to receive the brunt of hurt feelings and emotions running high. 

  • The Emotional Burden

Being named an executor of someone’s estate likely means that you hold a close personal relationship with them, and that often means that dealing with the legal responsibilities will carry a certain amount of emotional weight, too. 

It is not easy to sort through the estate of someone you cared for. While the grief of losing them would be enough to deal with on its own, the pressure of handling their finances and helping their beneficiaries to get everything in order – and to rebuild life without them – will take its own toll. 

  • Time

Even the simplest of cases takes time. You may need to sacrifice a significant amount of time sorting through paperwork, talking with the testator’s solicitor, and communicating with the testator’s beneficiaries – many of whom will be anxious to receive their inheritance, particularly if maintaining the same quality of life depends on it. 

For most people, this investment of time into something so important is more than worthwhile, but don’t go into this assuming it’s a nominal role. 

  • Conflicts of Interest 

Executors that are named within the will as beneficiaries have a conflict of interest. This can be particularly tricky if you feel that something in the will is not right, and wish to dispute the will in court. While executors still have a right to dispute a will, doing so may mean that you need to sacrifice your role as the executor of the estate altogether. 

Conflicts of interest can really complicate the process – not just from a legal standpoint, but when it comes to maintaining relationships with other beneficiaries named within the will.