Welcome to the third in a series of Probate Horror Stories, courtesy of Brown & Crona, LLC. Last month we discussed the importance of regularly updating your estate plan. This month we are looking at the potential fallout when the executor you name turns out to be a bad choice.
Fictional Situation: Marilyn
- 79-year-old female
- Widowed for 13 years
- 5 children
- Owns her home
- Has life insurance, investments, savings
- Updated her will after her husband passed away
When her husband passed away, Marilyn made the smart decision to update her will. One of the updates she was faced with was who to name as the executor of her estate – the person who would handle wrapping up the financial affairs and distributing all property as outlined in her will after she was gone.
In these situations, it’s not uncommon for adult children, siblings or family friends to raise their hands for the responsibility. In Marilyn’s situation, if she made a hasty decision – or was coerced into making the wrong choice – the repercussions could affect how her estate and her loved ones are protected.
- Adult children: If she chooses only one or two of her five children to assume this role, there could be potential infighting if the others find the appointment unfair or feel slighted. Lengthy and expensive probate situations may arise – situations that could chip away at the ultimate value of the estate and lead to strained relationships.
- Siblings: If the sibling she chooses is irresponsible or feels a sense of entitlement to Marilyn’s estate, the sibling may neglect to properly pay out debts and taxes or even hide assets so her beneficiaries do not receive what is legally due to them.
- Family friends: If the friendship with the named executor has become damaged or the person has made life decisions Marilyn does not fully agree with, that person may not have the desire or ability to properly carry out her wishes.
The whole reason for drafting a will and naming an executor is for peace of mind after you are gone. Marilyn could minimize or avoid many of these issues by naming an impartial professional fiduciary to act as executor of the will. The professional fiduciary will work diligently to file all necessary paperwork, inform all interested parties, pay all outstanding debts and ensure that the estate is properly distributed in a timely manner. If any probate situation occurs, the professional fiduciary will be able to move the process along as quickly as possible. The best part is that all of these duties can be performed without the emotional attachment that may be present if the executor is a friend or family member.
A Denver estate planning attorney like the team we have at Brown & Crona, LLC (formerly The Brown Law Firm, LLC) can help you draft an estate plan and help you find a professional fiduciary to act as your executor if you need one. To learn more or to hire a Denver estate planning lawyer, please contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.
Watch for our blog next month for the next installment in our Probate Horror Story Series.