Essential duties of executors include settling the financial affairs of the deceased and distributing assets to heirs based on the will. Sometimes, this means the executor is expected to sell belongings and real estate, so that money can be shared among beneficiaries. What constitutes prudent decision making along the way?
Understanding Fiduciary Responsibilities
When you are entrusted with executing the estate of a loved one, you are taking on the legal requirements of a fiduciary. Justia explains: An executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. They can face legal liability if they fail to meet this duty, such as when they act in their own interests or allow the assets in the estate to decay.
Given the responsibilities involved in executing an executor bond can be reassuring to everyone involved. Sometimes these bonds are specifically requested during the probate process. Essentially, an executor bond (sometimes also referred to as a probate or estate bond) is a type of fiduciary bond—it guarantees the faithful performance of the executor in accordance with the law. Colonial Surety Company makes it so quick and easy to get an executor bond online that that you can do it right here, now. Just get a quote online, fill in essential information, enter a payment method and download or print the bond. Executor Bond Here.
Questioning the Value of the Estate
A challenge frequently confronted by executors is the disappointment of beneficiaries who believed that the sale of possessions or real estate would result in higher sums of money being raised—and distributed. Is the executor personally liable for a “shortfall?” What constitutes prudence on the part of the executor? These kinds of questions were recently posed to The New York Times by a worried executor in the process of selling a family home and possessions, with the proceeds to be divided evenly among all the siblings. The insightful expert response exemplifies what prudence as an executor entails:
As the executor of the estate, your job is to settle your mother’s financial affairs and divide her assets among her heirs in accordance with the will. It’s not your job to pay your siblings if the estate is ultimately not as valuable as you think. But you are expected to make prudent decisions about how you liquidate it.
“What’s prudent is going to depend on the nature of the assets,” said Douglas F. Allen, Jr., a trusts and estates attorney in the Manhattan office of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
If the estate has, say, a valuable 19th-century armoire and you sell it at a yard sale, your siblings could hold you responsible for being careless with their inheritance. Your job is to figure out how to appraise it and find the best venue to sell it, whether that’s at an auction or through an antiques dealer. However, if the piece appraises for a modest sum, you may decide to sell it at an estate sale. If it sells for far less than the appraised value, then it was only worth that much. And if no one buys the hulking piece of furniture, then the cost of disposing it comes out of the estate.
When You’re Named As The Executor…
Although it can be difficult, it’s best for the executors named when wills are prepared to find out as much as they can from their loved ones in preparation for carrying out their duties when the time comes. One very pragmatic but often overlooked example is understanding routine monthly bills–a few months of stacked up penalties can really put a needless dent in estate assets, right? If there is a pet in the picture executors will want to understand those plans too. Executors will also want to be prepared to set up a bank account specifically for the affairs of the estate.
Good To Know: Help for Estate Lawyers
Clients—and you—have a lot to worry about it. Let us help. Working with Colonial Surety is the easiest, most efficient way to obtain the exact court bond you need for your clients and your cases. Colonial Surety helps you to quickly secure the right court and fiduciary bonds everywhere in the country.
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys. This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need.Increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself right here today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.