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Can You Refuse to Serve as an Executor?

06/23/2016

Serve as an Executor

It's true that being asked to serve as an executor of someone's estate is flattering and indicative of a great deal of trust and respect. However, according to New Jersey 105.com's article, "What if you don't want to serve as executor?" this is also a serious responsibility.

If you are chosen to be an executor, think about why you were chosen. Your friend or loved one may see you as the person in his or her life who's most qualified to handle the various tasks and responsibilities associated with the role.

In addition, there may be no one else to whom he or she can turn. This person may not feel he or she has a good second option to serve as the executor.

Think carefully before telling someone that you won't serve as the executor of his or her estate: confidence in the person selected as executor is a critical part of realizing the peace of mind that comes with a well-planned estate.

In addition, the executor's day-to-day responsibilities are in many instances shared or delegated to an estate planning attorney hired by the executor to help with the administration of the estate. The attorney and his or her staff can deal with many of the more time-consuming and difficult tasks in settling an estate.

Nonetheless, the executor is still responsible for the oversight of all aspects of the administration. This includes collecting, maintaining, and valuing assets; paying debts and expenses of the estate; filing estate and income tax returns; and distributing the assets per the directions in the will.

The executor's task may be very difficult if the estate has tough issues to address, such as insolvency, unpaid taxes, or real property disputes. However, if the estate is fairly simple as far as its assets and issues, the executor's job could be a breeze.

Should you decide to decline this role, it would be kinder to discuss your decision with the person in advance of his or her passing. However, the law does allow you to decline or renounce being appointed as an executor after the testator's death. You may want to continue a conversation with the person to explore other people in his or her life who may be good candidates, or ask that the person choose an alternate just in case you are unable to serve at the time of his or her passing.

Reference: New Jersey 105.com (June 6, 2016) "What if you don't want to serve as executor?"

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