Being a lifelong best friend, Jakob was an obvious pick as the executor for Mathew’s estate, and he was honoured to have been asked to carry out Matthew’s wishes as expressed in his will. Mathew had three children with strong personalities, and they held many differences of opinion.
Mathew left his house to his oldest child, with cash settlements available of equal value for the two younger children.
Jakob, a compassionate individual, felt Mathew would have wished to allow the youngest child to continue to reside in the house until the estate assets could be distributed, likely in a year or so. Acccordingly, Jakob invited the youngest child to continue to live in the house, rent free, until title could be registered into the oldest child’s name.
Which of the following statements most reasonably describes Jakob’s responsibility and liability as an executor?
a) Jakob has unfettered authority to make binding decisions affecting asset use pending distribution of the assets and assumes no personal responsibility concerning asset management while fulfilling his executor duties.
b) Jakob is responsible and liable for his actions regarding asset management and distribution pending issuance of Letters of Probate by the courts. In some jurisdictions allowing the youngest child to continue living in the home rent free may be considered lost rental income for the heir and become a liability issue for Jakob.
c) Jakob would not be able to mitigate his liability risks through discussion and consultation with heirs and therefore should look for guidance from the courts only.
d) Jakob was acting solely on Mathew’s behalf and therefore had every right to allow the youngest child to live in the house rent free pending distribution of assets; Jakob assumes no personal liability risk for his decision.
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