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Mistakes executors should avoid

Georgia residents who have been named estate executors have a lot of work ahead of them. For instance, they must file income tax returns, get in touch with beneficiaries and take steps to secure assets. It is important to point out that executors have a fiduciary responsibility toward the beneficiaries. Therefore, they should not be ignored or otherwise kept in the dark at any point while the estate is being settled.

If the needs of beneficiaries are not met, it may be possible for them to remove an executor. As a general rule, it is important to defer to the language in a will or trust as much as possible. While being an executor does grant an individual certain power over an estate, it is best to use that power wisely. Those who are unable or unwilling to make decisions or take action in a timely manner should refuse the appointment when it is first offered.

Those who feel overwhelmed may be comforted by the fact that they are allowed to hire legal counsel to help close the estate. Working with counsel can be an effective way to meet the needs of beneficiaries and avoid taking any actions that could be seen as self-dealing. Although there may be some leeway for executors who make mistakes, they could be personally liable for willful or especially egregious errors.

Choosing the right executor is generally considered to be a critical part of the estate planning process. Choosing the wrong individual could leave an estate open to legal challenges and other problems. It may be a good idea to appoint alternate executors in case the first person chosen is unable or unwilling to fulfill his or her duties. An attorney or other professional may serve as an estate's executor.

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