Series: Before Starting Your Job as Executor, Answer These 6 Quick Estate Questions

Question 1 Is the Estate Broke?

Most executors find being an executor is more work than they expected. No one ever warned them before they got involved. People wished they knew how much trouble being an executor was. Before you act, here’s what to ask first:

Q #1 Is the estate broke?

Do the simple math to answer this top question. Check if there’s enough money or valuable assets to pay all bills. Income taxes are usually the largest bill in any estate. Can you find tax returns? Do notices of assessment show money owing for taxes? Are there court judgments or mortgage obligations? Remember, before you start work, declining the job is easy.

Resigning after you start requires permission.

Are there too many debts? Think twice about getting involved. You may not have money to pay lawyer’s fees to protect you. You may not receive any executor compensation for your time and trouble. Not getting paid can make you re-think accepting the job. Don’t deal with estate assets in such circumstances. You may regret it later.


If you start executor work, you may not be able to quit until you prove you did nothing wrong. That can be costly and stressful. You could be accused of mis-handling jewelry, laptops or cash. How can you defend yourself if you have no money to hire lawyers?

You may be called upon to explain what happened to your aunt’s diamonds or all her valuables — including missing silver bars. Yes, I am joking: it is the gold bars that are missing.

Once you start work, you may not be able to quit. You must be replaced — often by a court order. Investigate if there is real estate in the deceased person’s name. Permission may only become available on terms that you can’t afford.

Read my next post Q #2 Can you handle the executor job? next.

Read Part 1 of my blog series, Before Starting Your Job as Executor, Answer These 6 Quick Estate Questions.

Do you need help with executor work? Contact me.