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Being an executor is an important, yet likely thankless job. Settling a person’s estate entails paying bills and distributing property according to the person’s wishes. But this may sometimes be easier said than done; especially for the uninitiated. The job of an executor can be demanding and time consuming because it involves having access to the correct records to administer the estate, as well as the patience to meticulously track down information.

With that, it is important for executors to avoid mistakes so that the estate can properly be administered. 

Paying bills too early – Once a person has passed, creditors may be notified and may begin sending invoices demanding payment. A new executor may instinctively will start paying bills. However, the federal government may have an interest in collecting taxes on the estate. Paying off creditors before an estate tax may leave the estate without enough money to meet priority obligations.

Making risky investments – Some executors may find it prudent to invest a portion of the estate in order to maximize it for beneficiaries. If the investments fail, the money from the estate may not be replaced. This may be especially troubling since an executor does not have an obligation to increase the value of the estate.

Losing tangible assets – Ultimately, an executor has a duty to keep assets safe while arrangements are made to transfer it to the appropriate beneficiary. Some executors may not realize that the assets belong to the estate, and may allow other (untrustworthy) people to hold them for “safe keeping.” If an executor loses an asset, he or she could be held liable.