The Stress and Responsibilities Required of Executors

Estate Planning

Individuals who choose to accept the role of executor, or personal representative, of a loved one’s estate have more to manage than mere financial matters. Those who are named as executor are usually someone close to the decedent. Not only is an executor mourning the loss of a dear friend or family member, but they must manage estate administration while carrying this grief.

Under many circumstances, the executor may have been a caregiver for the decedent in the months or years leading to their death. Social Work Today anticipates nearly a third of the workforce will provide care for an incapacitated or aging adult by 2020. In an earlier post, our elder law attorneys reviewed the setbacks and intangible costs of caregiving, such as physical stress, social support disruption, and career adjustments. A caregiver who transitions from the caregiving role to that of an executor moves from one demanding position to another.
Consider the pressure executors are under:
  • Time and deadlines. In addition to filing probate documents, sending creditor notices, filing required federal and state income tax returns, and perhaps federal estate tax returns, all by different strict deadlines, the executor must also make sure to comply with tax laws and accurately complete documents. This may take up a significant amount of time.
  • Paperwork. Asset distribution forms, court documents, business disposition documents, accountings, and clear organized records must be maintained. As of July 2015, executors may also be required to complete a lengthy Estate Information Return. At seven pages, this form must be completed by the deadline or executors are fined $250.
  • Liability. Executors may be held personally liable for errors. If a decedent’s back taxes remain unpaid or basis reporting mistakes occurred, other parties can pursue the executor for payment, and in most cases, additional penalties or fines.
Shouldering the stress of probate, asset distribution, tax matters, and the personal loss of a loved one might prompt an individual to refuse serving as executor. However, executors need not face handling estate administration as an all or nothing task. Consider requesting counsel from an estate planning attorney to assist with:
  • Timely and correct estate tax return, fiduciary income tax return, and final individual income tax return preparation and filing.
  • Court document preparation.
  • Proper valuation of assets and tax law assistance to identify methods of minimizing tax liabilities.
Estate planning attorneys can assist executors to whichever degree they need. Executors can retain an attorney for minimal counseling or comprehensive guidance throughout the entire administration process. Learn about the first steps for executors in North Carolina.

By Attorney Samantha Reichle

Address: 1414 Raleigh Rd Ste 203, Chapel Hill NC 27517
Phone: 919.636.0950 | Toll Free: 800.201.0413 | Fax: 919.493.6355 |