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Do executors have to pay out of pocket to handle disputes?

The executor of an estate has many responsibilities, and if you hold this role, you may wonder whether you have the right abilities for handling every step and possible issues that may come about. You do not have to feel alone in this worry, as many people feel intimidated by any type of legal proceeding, and probate is one that can take a considerable amount of time and effort.

One area you may feel particularly concerned about handling relates to conflicts with the estate. You may already know that will contests happen frequently, and you may even have some relatives in mind who you think could cause a stir. As the executor, it will fall into your lap to see any conflicts through any litigation, but you may wonder whether you will have to pay for the proceedings.

Estate funds

Generally, you can use funds from the estate to handle the necessary proceedings associated with probate. Because you have taken on this role for a now-deceased individual, you do not hold personal financial responsibility for most of the steps needed for closing the estate. However, the financial situation may become trickier to address when a contest or challenge to the will occurs.

Reasons for contesting the will

Individuals may have a variety of reasons for wanting to contest the contents of estate planning documents. Some of the reasons for these challenges include the following:

  • Contests regarding the interpretation of the will
  • Concerns over the validity of the will
  • Challenges to specific clauses in the document
  • Disputes over asset distribution as dictated by the will

These issues do not fall under your personal responsibility, but you do have the obligation as executor of defending the estate when such challenges arise. As a result, when someone files a claim in association with one of the aforementioned issues, you could use estate funds to handle the legal proceedings. Additionally, the contests must also apply to probate assets.

If an issue comes about with a non-probate asset, such as jointly held property or payable on death accounts, you may not have the ability to use estate funds, especially if the asset transfer benefitted you as the executor and no other possible beneficiaries.

Because this type of situation can prove immensely complicated, you may want to ensure that you have the right legal information for your case. Consulting with a probate attorney could allow you to remain aware of your duties and rights as executor.

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