Seek Legal Advice for Your Estate Plan
You may be wondering if you should accept the job of executor to settle an estate in Washington. Settling an estate can be a complex process, and it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as an executor. Tacoma estate planning attorneys at Jones Legacy Law can help you understand the estate plan and provide guidance on whether you should accept the job offer. They offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and advise on how to proceed.
Contact Jones Legacy Law today to get the help you need to make an informed decision.
What are the Legal Requirement to Qualify as an Executor?
The executor of an estate is the individual responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as outlined in their will. The executor is responsible for managing the estate, including collecting assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. As such, it is important to choose an executor who is trustworthy and capable of handling the duties of the role.
The following are the legal requirements for who can serve as executor for a Washington estate:
- The executor must be at least 18 years old.
- The executor must be a resident of the state where the will was created.
- The executor must be mentally competent and understand their duties and responsibilities.
- The executor must not have been convicted of a felony or other crime involving dishonesty or fraud.
Are There Special Skills Needed to Be an Executor of an Estate?
The ideal executor and trustee should be meticulous, patient, honest, organized, and dedicated to doing a great job. They must also be able to get along with others, particularly the other beneficiaries.
It is necessary to have a lot of free time as the job can take anywhere from six months to a year. Help can be sought from family members or professionals such as accountants, tax preparers, lawyers, and real estate brokers.
Some executors may choose to hand over the entire probate process to a lawyer while others may do most of the work themselves and seek advice from experts when needed.
What Should I Consider Before I Accept the Job of Executor to a Washington Estate?
The difficulty of functioning as an executor is determined by a variety of factors, including the size of the estate and the complexity of the decedent’s financial affairs, to mention a few.
- Understand the responsibilities: Before accepting the job of executor, you should understand the full scope of the responsibilities that come with it. This includes understanding the legal and financial obligations of administering an estate, such as filing tax returns, distributing assets, and settling debts.
- Consider your time commitment: Serving as an executor can be a time-consuming job. You should consider how much time you are able to commit to the role before accepting it.
- Consider your qualifications: You should also consider whether you have the necessary qualifications to serve as an executor. This includes having a basic understanding of estate law and financial matters, as well as being organized and detail-oriented.
- Consider potential conflicts of interest: You should also consider whether there are any potential conflicts of interest that could arise from serving as an executor. An executor, for example, might purchase assets from the estate. The executor is supposed to work in the best interests of the estate, which means selling the asset for the greatest possible price. However, as a buyer, the executor would seek the lowest possible price.
- Seek professional advice: If you need clarification on any aspect of serving as an executor, it is important to seek professional advice from an estate planning attorney.
Who Will Serve as Executor If You Decline the Job?
If you decide not to accept the role of the executor after the person who appointed you has passed away, or if you resign after having served for a period of time, someone else must take your place. Therefore, it is advisable to decline the offer as soon as you know that you do not wish to be the executor of the will, rather than prolonging the process.
If you decline the job of an executor of the estate, the court will appoint an administrator to serve in your place. The court will typically appoint a family member or close friend of the deceased, or a professional such as an attorney or accountant.
How Do I Resign As an Executor Once Probate Has Begun?
If you wish to resign as an executor of an estate once probate has begun, you must file a formal resignation with the court. The court will then appoint a new executor to take your place. You should also provide a copy of your resignation to all interested parties, such as beneficiaries and creditors.
What Happens if the Executor of the Estate Does Not Do His Job?
If an executor of an estate does not do his job, he may be removed from his position by the court. The court may also require the executor to pay back any money that was misused or not properly accounted for. In some cases, the executor may even be held liable for any losses suffered by the estate.
What Action Can You Take if the Executor Does Not Do His Job?
If the executor of an estate is not fulfilling their duties, it is important to take action to ensure that the estate is properly managed. Here are some steps you can take:
- Contact the executor and ask them to explain why they are not fulfilling their duties.
- If the executor does not respond or does not provide a satisfactory explanation, contact a lawyer to discuss your options.
- If the executor is not performing their duties properly, you may be able to file a petition with the court to have them removed from their position.
- You may also be able to file a complaint with the state bar association if the executor is an attorney.
- If the executor is not performing their duties in a timely manner, you may be able to file a motion with the court to have them held in contempt.
- You may also be able to file a claim against the executor for any damages caused by their failure to fulfill their duties.
What Is the Process for Starting Probate and Filing the Will?
If probate is necessary, the executor named in the will must go to the superior court in the county where the deceased person lived and file a Petition for Probate, along with the will. The current filing fee is $240.
If there is no will or the executor is not available or willing to serve, the court will appoint an administrator to do the same job. The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner has the first priority for this role.
The court then issues a document called “Letters Testamentary” (to an executor) or “Letters of Administration” (to an administrator) which serves as proof of the personal representative’s legal authority to manage estate property.
The personal representative is entitled to a fee for their work, which must be approved by the court if not specified in the will. Many choose not to take a fee due to it being taxable income.
Contact Our Tacoma Estate Planning Attorneys
The process of becoming an Executor in Washington can vary based on the specific circumstances. To learn more about the process, as well as the probate process as a whole, call us today at Jones Legacy Law to book an appointment for a free consultation.
We can also help you in areas such as Elder Law, Probate and Estate Administration, and Bankruptcy. Our firm is experienced in these areas and can provide you with the legal advice you need.