Being an executor means taking on some responsibility and risk. Here are a few of the risks you should watch out for.
Trying to do everything yourself. Thriftiness is appreciated by the heirs, but you are the one who bears all of the responsibility for the decisions you make. So, selling the real estate to the next door neighbour’s son and saving the real estate commission sounds good until an heir takes you to court later for selling too cheap. If you use a professional and get it wrong, you can sue the professional.
This same theory can apply to a variety of estate issues from appraisals, to sale of everything, in addition to “doing” the heavy lifting. This is one time when getting it right is important. Saving a commission or an hourly wage; not so important.
Deciding you know better than the deceased. The will lays out the plan of the deceased. Your job is to carry out their wishes- not to use creative license to execute your own plan. Stick to the wishes of the deceased and carry out their wishes.
Taking advice from other lay people. You may know someone who has “been through it before”. Their perspective may even make sense. However, it’s not them on the line in your executor job, it’s you. Make sure advice you take is professional and based on the facts of your deceased’s will.
Using your buddy who just got his real estate license. Most real estate relationships are based on some social connection and perhaps your buddy will work out this time. Be sure you are working from good data and objectively ask yourself if this decision is in the best interests of the estate and in the interest of protecting you from liability.
Being an executor is no easy task, but hopefully these risks can be avoided.