Should You Be an Executor of a Will?

While it’s an onerous obligation, the task of being an Executor for a family member or a close friend can be seen as a final act of friendship. It’s often humbling that someone trusts you sufficiently to invite you to accept this very personal responsibility. In many ways, you should feel honored to have been chosen as executor.


However, having been chosen to act as Executor is not of itself sufficient reason to accept the responsibility especially if you are not 100% committed to the task. In such circumstances, it’s much better for everyone if you decline the job when you are originally asked, rather than for you to half-heartedly agree to act and then decide you can’t do it after the testator’s passing.


Assuming however that you’re willing in principle at least to act as Executor, there’s no reason to refuse to accept the appointment. If you are not quite sure what to do and when to do it, there’s no need to panic. There are numerous Executor guides on how to probate an estate. These books can be a great source of assistance for those acting as Executors of an estate. If you still need more help to probate the estate you can always get the assistance of a lawyer. Remember, the lawyer’s fees will be paid by the estate.


All that said, you may very well have good reason for your hesitancy in serving as executor, even for a close friend or family member’s estate.  Are you in poor health generally? Or are you aware that there is a strong possibility of conflict between certain beneficiaries of the estate which you really don’t want to be involved in? Possibly the deceased carried a lot of debt and this is another thing that concerns you? These sorts of things are valid reasons for you to hesitate about accepting or even to reject the role of Executor.


If after taking all of the above into consideration you are still willing to take on the role, remember that the only qualities an Executor really cannot do without are conscientiousness, integrity and common sense! Frankly, if you have an organized mind, are reasonably prudent and are detail oriented, there is absolutely no reason for you to have doubts about serving. Remember you can always seek help from a lawyer or accountant if in the end you find that you need to!


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Executors Guide to Probate

How To Probate An Estate - A Step-By-Step Guide for Executors


This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating acting as an executor of someone’s estate! Learn about the various stages of probate and what an executor needs to do at each stage to successfully navigate his way through to closing the estate and distributing the deceased’s assets.

Published December 2010

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