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Is there any risk to being an executor?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Estate Planning

Being named the executor of someone’s will is not just an honor – it’s a massive responsibility that comes with a lot of obligations. 

Before you accept the appointment, you need to make sure that you fully understand the potential problems you can face. These include:

1. Disputes with beneficiaries and heirs are common

As a fiduciary to the estate, executors are morally and legally bound to follow the law and the testator’s directions. That may not always make the deceased’s beneficiaries and heirs particularly happy. If someone with a valid interest in the will mounts a legal challenge to the will, you could find yourself embroiled in a lengthy legal battle.

2. You could be sued directly if someone is unhappy with your service

Your situation can get even more tense if you’re accused of misconduct. Executor misconduct can involve things like missing deadlines with the probate court, failing to secure the estate’s assets against loss, using estate funds for your own needs or failing to follow the terms of the will. You can be held financially liable if your errors cause losses.

3. You may spend a lot of time for very little reward

Broadly speaking, Georgia allows executors to be compensated with a 2.5% commission on all funds received by the executor and the same on all sums paid out, whether that is for debts or distributions. On an estate worth $100,000, you may receive only $2,500 – and the family of the deceased may even ask you to waive that amount if you’re a friend or relative. That’s very little compensation for many hours of work.

It’s okay to think long and hard about being the executor of someone’s will. If you decide to accept the appointment, legal guidance can help you get through the process with as much ease as possible.