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What are some common misconceptions about executors?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Estate Planning

When it comes to estate planning, executors play an important role by passing out assets and fulfilling the last wishes after an individual dies.

However, several misconceptions surround this position, leading to confusion and potential complications. Debunking some of these common misconceptions about executors can help you.

Executors inherit everything

One misconception is that executors automatically inherit the deceased person’s assets. In reality, an executor’s primary duty is to manage and distribute the estate according to the deceased person’s will. They act as custodians. Executors get compensation for their services but do not inherit the entire estate unless specified in the will.

Executors have unlimited power

Some believe that executors have unlimited power and control over the estate. However, they need to follow the terms outlined in the will and state laws. Executors must follow a legal process that includes obtaining court approval, notifying beneficiaries and settling outstanding debts.

Anyone can be an executor

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is suitable to be an executor. The role requires a responsible and organized individual who can handle complex financial matters and legal responsibilities. It is a significant responsibility that demands attention to detail and a commitment to fulfilling the deceased person’s wishes.

Executors can distribute assets immediately

Another misconception is that executors can distribute assets immediately after someone’s death. In reality, the process can be time-consuming. Executors must locate and appraise assets, settle outstanding debts and navigate potential disputes among beneficiaries. The distribution of assets occurs only after they meet all the legal requirements.

Considering that 34% of American adults between the ages of 35 to 54 have failed to talk about estate planning with anyone else, understanding the role of an executor is important for effective planning. Clearing up these misconceptions can help individuals appreciate the complexities of the executor’s responsibilities.