Almost anyone who assumes a position of trust in managing someone else’s finances, such as an attorney, accountant or financial planner, is a fiduciary. Executors of estates are also fiduciaries.
Executors of estates have multiple responsibilities, all of which aim to protect a testator’s or the beneficiaries’ best interests instead of their own. Executors who unwilling or unable to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to clients may face breach of fiduciary duty allegations and related penalties.
Georgia executors’ fiduciary responsibilities
Some of the first responsibilities that an executor must perform are filing a testator’s will with the probate court and inventorying their assets. Executors must then contact heirs and creditors to notify them of the testator’s passing and open a checking account to handle all the estate’s financial affairs.
Executors must file a decedent’s final tax return and pay any tax obligations the testator may have as they near the end of the probate process. The final step an executor must take is distributing any assets to beneficiaries.
What penalties exist if an executor breaches their fiduciary duties?
Executors must preserve the value of the testator’s assets between the time they inventory them and distribute them to heirs. Executors must also abstain from making choices that go against what the testator requested or engaging in self-dealing. It’s also their responsibility to make timely payments and not incur interest when doing so. A judge may order an executor to pay any amounts that they squander from their personal funds.
When you might need guidance during the probate process
Aside from estate attorneys or probate judges, there aren’t many individuals who must regularly handle the various responsibilities that one must address when someone dies. An attorney can answer any questions about the probate process and the responsibilities different individuals may have.