One very important aspect to be aware of as an executor or trustee has to do with the managing of estate assets. Whether you are a trustee of a trust or an executor of a probate estate, you are sitting in a fiduciary capacity.
Fiduciary capacity is a legal phrase which means that you must always act in the best interest of the estate or trust, and the beneficiaries. If you fail to act in the best interest of the estate or trust, even inadvertently, you could be held personally responsible. The courts could order you to replenish assets of the estate or trust which were harmed as a result of your conduct.
You should at least speak with an attorney if you are named as an executor of a probate estate or a trustee of a trust. Don’t make any decisions which could subject you to personal liability.
3 Guidelines for Successful Executors and Trustees
When you are managing estate assets as an executor or a trustee it is important that you document every transaction. Transactions even include paying for postage to send certified mail to a beneficiary for their distribution. Such extremes may seem ridiculous, but you must account for every penny which is distributed from an estate account. If the expense is not accounted for, the probate court will not approve the accounting. Further, if you have no record of the transaction, it can cause issues for the beneficiaries of the trust. Lack of documentation can also possibly lead to litigation.
Another important aspect to remember is always focus on communication. Many times, communication means overcommunicating. A lack of communication is one of the common reasons that probate estates and trust administration turn into contested lawsuits. Therefore, it is important to engage in communication as often as possible regarding the status of the probate estate or trust.
A final aspect to remember is always follow the rules of the court and terms of the trust. Ensure that you have a knowledgeable and experienced estates and trust attorney representing you at all stages of the proceedings. It is important to have an attorney which you can rely upon to answer your questions. Your attorney can make sure you do not commit any actions which could subject you to personal liability.
For More Information
Please contact the Probate and Estate Administration Attorneys at Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt at (513) 241-0400. You can also use our contact form to schedule a time to discuss your probate and estate questions and concerns. Our Ohio Probate and Estate Attorneys look forward to speaking with you!