From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am named as the executor in my mother’s will, but my family does not get along at all. Already, disagreements about the sale of land have become heated. If I agreed to serve as executor, can I be sued if my family has disagreements?
As the executor, you are a fiduciary, owing the beneficiaries a duty to act in their best interests. You will be given broad powers. To counter these powers, the beneficiaries are given the right to Petition the Orphan’s Court to review your actions and, if the court would find that any action of yours diminished their inheritance, to surcharge you (fine you) to make them whole.
Because of this possibility, you are allowed to use estate funds to hire an experienced probate lawyer to advise and represent you. Part of our job as the executor’s attorney is to keep you out of trouble. If a beneficiary files a complaint, we then represent you to show the judge that you should not be surcharged.