Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Executors Beware: A Cautionary Tale

Last will and testament

In a tale of caution about being an executor, the cast includes a 73-year-old homemaker named executor of a nonagenarian cousin’s will, an attorney battling brain cancer, seven distant relatives and an IRS bill for $1.2 million in penalties and interest for failure to file an estate tax return and pay taxes on time. 

In an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the executor is trying to recover the $1.2 million from a series of complex factual circumstances.  The question is whether her failure to file the return and pay the tax on time was due to reasonable cause or willful neglect.

The details of this story will likely make you think twice about whom you appoint as executor of your will.  While many people hire estate attorneys to do the work and appoint family or friends as executors, it is ultimately the executor who bears the responsibility to make sure everything is done on time. 

“Reliance on counsel cannot constitute reasonable cause for the late filing and payment of taxes.”  Thus, it is ever important as an executor to read your basic duties and understand all of your responsibilities. 

See Ashlea Ebeling, The Executor’s $1.2 Million Mistake, Forbes, March 4, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink

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