Thinking about the death of a loved one is difficult. Even if a family member is not sick or elderly, it can still be emotional to even consider life without someone you love. Still, there are times when it is appropriate to have these thoughts, particularly if a loved one is creating an estate plan.
Your loved one may be working on his or her plan and has approached you about acting as his or her executor. If you did not answer right away, you made the right call. While it is certainly admirable to be in this important position, if you do not know much about probate or what your duties as executor would entail, getting some information first before giving your answer is wise.
What should you know?
First, you should know that probate is the process of closing your loved one’s Ohio estate after his or her passing. Probate is a legal process, so you would need to be prepared to handle paperwork, court proceedings and sensitive information. It is also important to note that, as the executor, you could be liable for any mistakes made during the probate process that result in monetary damages.
Some other details to consider before choosing to accept this position include:
- Probate can take months or even years to complete, depending on the details. If you are not ready for a significant time commitment, you may want to pass on the role.
- If the estate is complex, you may have a considerable amount of work when the time comes. Inventorying assets, contacting multiple beneficiaries, obtaining values for assets (particularly unusual or expensive property) and much more could leave you busier than anticipated.
- Your duties as executor could kick in before your loved one’s passing. You may need to ensure that he or she keeps up with assets and debts, knows the location of important documents, explains wishes for funeral arrangements, and other details that you may need before his or her passing.
- Executors do receive compensation for taking on the role, and that is because it is a job. You may have the ability to collect compensation by the hour, by a percentage of the estate’s value or a flat fee.
This information is not to scare you away from being an executor, but if you do not think you could handle these and many other tasks in the near future, it is important that you inform your loved one. It may seem difficult, but he or she likely has other options. If you believe that you can handle the job, you can gain more information and start preparing well ahead of time.