It sounds very glamorous to be named Executor or Executrix of a Will, until your parent or loved one passes away. You probably picture a well manicured woman with hair up, glasses, wearing a Channel Suite and a Gucci brief case flying off first-class to handle the family's affairs. Part of this is true, but there is nothing glamorous about it. Its more like - in yoga pants, hair in a pony tale, "coke bottle" thick glasses and a reusable Giant grocery bag filled with unfamiliar paperwork and finding out where to start.
This will be my second time in this roll, but unlike wine it does not get better with time. Every Estate is different. While you are trying to deal with grief and the loss of your loved one, now you have to put on wadding boots to start digging into all of the legal and financial stuff. There will be many challenges in this role including dealing with emotions of the beneficiaries. These emotions sometimes may bring out the ugly side of this process when beneficiaries mentally calculate what they think should be their portion of the Estate. Until you've done your job by properly satisfying all of the legal requirements, you may feel like you need a pair of boxing gloves in order to keep everyone at bay.
As the Executor/Executrix, it will be your obligation to manage the Estate properly and legally, if you can’t figure it out – hire an Estate Attorney or a Probate Attorney. This is a job- I mean a serious job. You are even eligible to be paid for your time, for all of your travel expenses and any other expenses which would be paid from the Estate. But don't let all of this go to your head thinking you will be able to fly first class or stay at five star hotels while doing this. Although you are the one in charge of managing the Estate, there are federal and state laws that provide legal oversight to this process, in addition you must ultimately answer to the beneficiaries.
Many become excited and empowered when they see their name on the top line of the Will naming them the Executor/Executrix. Its not just a title, it’s a real job which comes with legal responsibilities. It also comes with no job description and no "how to guide." This job will last several months maybe even years depending upon how complex the Estate is that you are managing. Everything you do will be scrutinized by the beneficiaries and may result in strained family relationship. As you can see, there is very little glamour in any of this.
So what is the take away from this Blog? Its not about what you know about this role, its all about what you do in it. You must be someone able to make responsible decisions and be OK with being held personally accountable both legally and to Estate's beneficiaries. When your parent or loved one has named you or will be naming you as their Executor/Executrix speak up if you do not feel that you would be able to handle something like this and suggest that someone else do it. If you are willing to accept this role, stay tuned for our next Blog where we discuss how to prepare for it.