In estate planning, the executor of an estate plays a very important role. Most people trusted with this role discharge their duties in full accordance with the relevant legal principles.
However, some executors take advantage of the situation or lack essential skills; either of these situations could end up in court.
Primary duties of an executor
Information from a Forbes article states that the executor of an estate should have integrity and good judgment. The primary purpose of this position resides in the administration of a deceased person’s financial affairs. These tasks include the following responsibilities:
- Paying off financial obligations
- Distributing assets to heirs
- Paying taxes
- Finalizing paperwork
- Issuing death certificates
Depending upon the estate, the role of an executor might take a significant time commitment. It might also involve complicated matters that exceed the abilities of an individual. While sometimes the deceased appoints the executor, other times the courts name an executor of the estate. Not all executors have the competence and integrity to fulfill their duties.
Two reasons for court action
An incompetent executor might not have the time or the ability to fulfill his or her duties. Many complicating factors could lead to this situation, such as the executor living far away or having too many responsibilities to do the job justice. This can result in muddled affairs, unpaid bills and missed deadlines. Beneficiaries or heirs might have to initiate court action to right the ship.
In other cases, the executor does not act in the best interests of the estate through dishonesty. The person could take an unreasonable amount of pay or unfairly apportion assets to heirs. In either of these cases, estate litigation might be the best option.