Stephen Cockriel May 19, 2016

While the executor of an estate is tasked with carrying out the terms of a will or trust, that person generally cannot make decisions on his or her own. In many cases, that person has a fiduciary responsibility to beneficiaries and must also conform to state and federal laws. Essentially, this person must put the interests of other beneficiaries equal to or ahead of his or her own.

An executor is tasked with performing an inventory of an estate and putting a value on each of those items. If the value of a good changes or is sold, that information must be recorded. In addition, if a good is sold or a tax document is filed, that must also be noted in a timely manner. Failure to do so could put the executor on the wrong side of the law, and it could lead to lawsuits from family members or any other beneficiary.

Depending on the language in a will or trust, it may be possible to remove an executor without the need for legal action. However, state law generally allows for an individual to be removed from that role if he or she is not fulfilling his or her obligations. Those who have concerns should take action sooner rather than later to preserve the estate.

The executor of a will does not have any ownership rights over property in an estate. Instead, he or she is tasked with overseeing those assets until the estate is settled. Legal counsel may be able to help the executor comply with the law or help to remove him or her from that role, which may allow for a proper estate settlement process to occur.