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Stachler Harmon Attorneys at Law Aug. 2, 2019

It's an honor to be appointed as executor of a loved one's estate. The problem is many who are appointed to that role only do it one time. Many are ill-informed about their responsibilities and make mistakes as they carry out their assigned duties. They can cost heirs to lose a significant portion of their inheritance.

A common mistake that executors make is not prioritizing the payment of bills as they roll in. Two of the most important ones are the funeral home and tax bills. In the case of the latter, you can be held personally liable if the estate runs out of money or you neglect to pay any taxes due. This is why it's important to pay this one first. Bills for utilities or credit cards are of the least importance.

First-time executors also often lose track of assets. This often happens because they don't take time to read over the will to see what's included before attempting to distribute assets to others. An executor may be held financially liable for paying the value of squandered assets if a transfer doesn't occur.

Executors also often struggle in disposing of real estate when the situation calls for it. If a home is slated to be divided up among multiple beneficiaries, then the executor may struggle in asking one of them to move out so that the house can be put up on the market. It's the executor's responsibility to set aside their emotions and personal preferences and uphold the testator's wishes instead.

Another way that executors make errors is by taking too many risky moves when making investment decisions. While it's their responsibility to help maintain or grow the value of the estate's assets, some executors take this a little bit too far. They do this because they're playing with someone else's money instead of their own. They can be sued if they unnecessarily squander funds.

The responsibility of being an executor is both an honor and a curse. While it's great that your friend or loved one trusted you enough to ensure that their final bills were paid and that their wishes were carried out, it's difficult performing any role for the very first time.

A probate administration attorney here in Dayton can guide you through your role as an Ohio executor so that you don't unintentionally expose yourself to any liability.