Getting named as an executor to someone else's estate is a dubious honor (and sometimes not worth what is agreed by the parties or allowed as a fee by the Probate Court). It means that the person who passed trusted you to fulfill his or her wishes, which reflects well on your character. There can be a lot of work that comes with managing an estate. The same is true if someone names you as a trustee for an estate or end of life trust.
You need careful and comprehensive awareness of the various legal obligations you're facing, as well as the specifics of the estate plan, trust requirements or last will. Working with an experienced Illinois estate and probate attorney is wise.
Your attorney can review the documentation provided by the testator to help ensure you are properly complying with all requests. An attorney can also help verify that the requests and requirements within the estate plan, trust or last will comply with state laws. Trying to handle everything on your own could result in a messy situation where one or more heirs or family members contest the will or your role as executor of the estate in the hopes of personal gains.
What happens when someone contests the will
Once a person dies and the last will enters probate, people who believe they deserve some or more of the estate can challenge or contest the will. When that happens, the person contesting will likely retain an attorney. It is common to claim that the will's creation happened with undo influence or when a person's mental faculties were compromised. It is also common to claim that the executor is violating the conditions or requirements set forth in the last will or estate plan.
Sometimes, even a trustee of a trust may face challenges and get accused of mishandling the estate or even appropriating funds for person gain. The longer you wait to officially respond, the harder the process can become. It could turn into a full-blown legal battle for the assets of the estate.
The best way to protect yourself and ensure that the last will or estate plan gets followed as written is to assert yourself as executor and retain the assistance of an experienced estate and probate attorney. Your attorney can help you document exactly what is being done with funds or physical assets to prove that you are complying with requirements.
An estate and probate attorney protects you when you act as executor
In rare cases where funds or physical items from the estate are intentionally mishandled, the executor can be held financially and legally liable for those issues. Working with an attorney who understands Illinois state probate and estate law is the best way to protect yourself from potential issues.