There are many rules that executors and administrators of estates (i.e. “personal representatives”) must follow, with the most important being the rule against commingling. In other words, executors absolutely must keep their own money separate from the estate’s money. Use the estate’s money as your own and you may go to jail.
This anti-commingling rule applies to trustees of trusts and agents under a power of attorney as well. Unless the legal document provides otherwise, you may not use estate, trust, or the principal’s money as your own. A “principal” is the person who creates a power of attorney (i.e. general durable power of attorney.)
You are usually entitled to get back expenses while serving as executor, trustee, or agent, but you must keep detailed records and receipts for all transactions. The more detailed and more clear your records, the better.
Sometimes the executor, trustee, or agent is also a beneficiary under the same legal document, will, trust, or power of attorney. In that case, be sure that you treat all beneficiaries, including yourself, the same. And, of course, keep good records.
Where to Get Executor Guidance
Always consult with a qualified estate planning attorney for guidance regarding serving as an executor, personal representative, trustee, or power of attorney agent. And, if you suspect that someone acting in one of these roles is commingling funds or otherwise taking money, speak to a qualified estate planning – probate attorney.
Please feel free to contact our office at (858) 792-5988 for a free attorney consultation.