If someone you care about has passed away, you may have been named in the will as executor of an estate. If you are asked by a deceased person (a decedent) to be executor of an estate, you should be aware that there is a lot of responsibility involved in serving as an executor. You can’t just accept this position without understanding what you are taking on, and grasping the full extent of the responsibility that you will have for many months as the probate process unfolds.
SinclairProsser Law can provide you with guidance on whether or not you should be executor of an estate. Our legal team can also help you to serve as an executor so you can fulfill the role that the deceased person wished you to play.
However, if you make the choice not to be executor of an estate, that is OK too and there is a process under Maryland law that determines what happens if you decide you do not want to be an executor. Call today to speak with a Maryland probate lawyer to find out what should happen if you do not want to be executor of an estate.
Why Wouldn’t You Want to be Executor Of An Estate?
There are a lot of reasons why someone might not want to be executor, even if doing so would honor the wishes of the deceased. When you accept the responsibility of serving as executor, you have a fiduciary duty. This duty is the highest duty the law imposes on a person, and it could potentially result in you being held legally liable if you do something wrong during the probate process. You don’t want to put yourself at risk of liability, so you need to make certain that you understand the duties of an executor and are ready to take them on.
The duties of an executor of an estate are actually really complicated in most cases. Not only do you have to file for probate with the Orphans’ Court in Maryland in the appropriate county, but you also have to do things like getting a tax ID for the estate, filing all tax returns, taking care of accounting issues, managing estate property and more. All of these responsibilities can extend for month, as the probate process takes a long time. You may not be able or willing to do all of these different obligations and to fulfill the other duties an executor has under Maryland law.
What Happens if You Don’t Want to be Executor Of An Estate?
If you do not want to be the executor of an estate, then you can decline to fulfill this role. When a decedent names an executor in his last will and testament, this does not mean that the person just becomes the executor. The person needs to agree to do the job, needs to petition for probate with the court, and needs to actually be appointed to serve as executor by the court. If you decline, the court will instead appoint a probate administrator to fulfill the role that an executor would normally fulfill during the probate process.
The probate process can continue without you serving as executor and the probate administrator will do all of the difficult tasks that you would have had to do. This can not only be better for you, but is better for everyone, including heirs or beneficiaries who could have had their inheritance delayed if you accepted the role as executor when you were not able to fulfill it.
Getting Help from A Maryland Probate Lawyer
If you do not want to be executor of an estate, a Maryland probate lawyer can help you to understand what happens next and how the probate process will unfold without you. If you are thinking about serving as an executor, we can help you to fully understand your responsibilities and can guide you through the probate process as you fulfill those obligations.
Register for our free estate planning seminars https://www.sinclairprosserlaw.com/seminars/ next week to learn more about how you can make a smart estate plan that includes the right choice of an executor of an estate or that allows you to avoid the probate process altogether so no one you love needs to handle the many responsibilities that go along with being an executor. You can download our free estate planning worksheet to get familiar with the information that will be presented.