While it’s likely that the testator that appointed you as executor of their estate gave you a head’s up that they were doing so, it’s unlikely that they did much to prepare you for the responsibilities that the probate court will expect you to undertake in your role.
You must understand an executor’s duties to avoid unnecessarily exposing yourself to legal liability.
What your responsibilities are as an executor
Your job as executor is to manage a decedent’s estate. You first have to inventory their assets and preserve them for safekeeping. You must notify the testator’s heirs and creditors of their passing. It’s then your responsibility to settle up with the testator’s creditors and file their final tax return. Your final obligation is to divide up any of the estate’s remaining assets per the testator’s will.
Some challenges you may face as a relatively inexperienced executor
It’s not unheard of for heirs to try and stake a claim to what they believe is rightfully theirs without letting the probate process play out as it should. One problem with this is that the testator may have left that asset to someone else. An heir may leave you in a vulnerable position, having to personally cover a squandered asset’s value if you don’t adequately manage the situation as the executor.
You may also end up having to tap into your finances to make up for the mistake if you don’t effectively safeguard any of the testator’s property for the creditors. You may end up need to sell it to pay off creditors. If you didn’t make the right choices to preserve its value, then you may find yourself on the hook repaying any losses.
Your inexperience can be costly
Many people pick an executor because they want to ensure that they choose someone responsible, trustworthy and financially savvy. While an executor can be all of these things, it may not be enough to help them understand the ins-and-outs of how to manage a Tennessee estate adequately. An attorney can walk you through the probate process here in Memphis so as to not unintentionally expose yourself to legal liability.