When someone is named executor of a will, it comes with a lot of responsibility.
First, they must put the interests of the estate before their own interests — this is called acting as a fiduciary. If any litigation takes place (like a will contest), it’s the executor’s job to hire a lawyer and be manager of the whole case. Additionally, the executor is legally required to provide detailed accounting to the heirs.
It’s not surprising that many times people are just not up to the task. Maybe they were at the time they were appointed — but 10 or 20 years later, life has changed in so many ways. Getting left with so much responsibility is just another burden to them and they don’t know where to begin.
I’ve seen first hand what a difference it makes to get professional help. Judith Heft & Associates has settled estates acting as support for executors and attorneys. In addition to dealing with daily money management, we set up systems for such things as:
- Bill paying
- Returning hardware (such as cable boxes)
- Getting address changes to vendors
One of the first lessons I learned doing this work is how much easier it is for the heirs when the deceased was organized. And you are your parents’ heirs! Organizing their papers now — or paying someone else to do it — will create time for you when you need it most.
If you’ve been appointed executor and find yourself overwhelmed by the paperwork, it’s easy for my team to take over because that is what we do every day. We have an understanding of papers and documents and what needs to be done with them. We’re small enough to be on a first-name basis with our clients, and big enough to have a bowling team.