Robert A. Bonavito, CPA PC

What are the Responsibilities of the Trustee or Executor of an Estate?

Every once in a while I get a phone call in my office from someone upset because they weren't elected as someone's trustee or executor of an estate, and I always have to take a step back because they don't understand what they are saying. They are telling me that my brother in-law didn't select me as the executor to the will or as the trustee of their children's trust. And I have to tell them, I say, "You have to understand that when you take a position like that you have a fiduciary responsibility, and you only have downside and no upside. Because if you do your job perfectly no one is going to care. But, if you make one mistake, okay, that could ruin your relationship with them, and they could also sue you and ruin you financially."  

So, when someone wants you to become an executor or trustee always be hesitant. But, if you do want to do it, make sure you go and get professional help because this is the first time you are doing it, and you don't really understand how to do it. How can you do something perfectly the first time that you ever did it? It's as if I put you in a major league game against a professional pitcher and expect you to hit that ball. You're not going to hit it. And that's why you need to get professional help.  

The other thing is that this is very time consuming. And what I find often is the case that when I look at all the work they did, all the hours, and figure out how much they made from the estate, because their is a schedule that lists how much you get for executor and their is a schedule of how much you get as a trustee, and it is regulated by the state, it usually comes out to be like $3 or $4 an hour.  

So what I'm telling you, what I want you to understand from this video, is two things. One, if someone wants you to be a trustee or an executor, take a step back and think twice. And two, make sure that you get professional help, because you are not going to get paid for the extra time you put in, and what you're doing is probably not going to be correct, you can get sued, and you can lose a friend.  

If you have any questions about this, you feel free to email me.

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