Executor’s Role Has Many Responsibilities
Being asked to become an executor of an Estate carries many responsibilities, the RMB Estate Planning explains:
An executor is a person or persons appointed in a Will to manage the estate when someone dies, carrying out the wishes of the deceased and administering the Estate according to the Will.
Executors are accountable to the beneficiaries but it is the executors who are in charge of the estate. Executors must work to the direction of the Will and not the beneficiaries.
Being an executor is a position of great trust and the executor has a legal as well as moral obligation to fulfil the role with high standards of care and honesty.
An executor is responsible for the estate’s assets and liabilities and must conform with legal standards imposed on them as trustees. Indeed, the executor's role is often referred to as a trustee or a fiduciary role in that they must act in the best interests of the estate and not in the their own interests.
Executors are responsible for managing and protecting all of the assets of the estate until they are distributed to the beneficiaries and ensuring that all liabilities are paid where appropriate.
Duties include following the terms of the Will, caring for the assets, keeping necessary records, consulting with other executors, obtaining expert advice if there is any doubt as to the correct course of action, avoiding conflicts of interest and more importantly not making a profit from the position of executor.
Generally, executors are not required to get consent from the beneficiaries unless they are seeking to act in contrast to the directions of the Will, in which case they will need consent from the beneficiaries.
However, if necessary beneficiaries can apply to the Court to order an executor to deal with the estate promptly and diligently and to correct any wrongful distribution by an executor.
Executors are also responsible for making the funeral arrangements if the Will maker has not already put arrangements in place. They should follow any directions left by the Will maker but are not bound to do so.
If the executor is not an immediate family member then the executor should consult with the family about funeral arrangements and be careful not to incur expenses beyond the available funds of the estate.
You do have the right to refuse to accept the position of executor and this should be done prior to a grant for Probate.