Many people consider it an honor to be named as trustee or executor over a loved one’s estate. It can be the ultimate sign of admiration and trust. However, serving in this capacity comes with a broad array of duties and responsibilities – obligations which a fiduciary may be legally required to perform or they could be subject to personal liability.
An executor is the person appointed by the creator of a last will to carry out the terms of the will. Specifically, they are tasked with managing an estate through the probate process. A trustee is an individual that has been given the responsibility of managing property in a trust. For purposes of this article, we are specifically referring to a trustee tasked with administering trust assets after the death of the trust creator. Individuals and institutions, such as a bank or trust company, can typically serve in either of these roles.
During the administration of an estate or trust, an executor or trustee owes a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries. Running afoul of this duty can lead to personal liability.
Common situations where personal liability has been incurred include:
source: Ivan & Daugustinis Estate and Tax Attorneys – information updated as of 10.17.22
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