When a loved one dies, a common question is along these lines: “My mother just died and I’m the Executor. I’m flying to North Carolina with my wife and children, and my sister and her family are coming too. Can I pay for all the travel, lodging, food, and similar expenses from the Estate or from my mother’s checking account? That’s what she would have wanted.”
While this might sound like a reasonable request, as Executor, you must proceed with caution. As Executor or Personal Representative, you are personally liable for the proper management and spending of the estate assets—meaning that if you make a mistake, it comes out of your own pocket to fix it.
An Executor or Trustee can be reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses incurred to properly administer the Estate including to clean up the Decedent’s home. This also includes costs associated with final arrangements such as burial or cremation, and a funeral or reception. However, unless the Will or Trust has a specific clause indicating otherwise, paying for other family members’ travel expenses from the Estate is generally not permitted.
Losing a loved one is hard. The days and weeks after a loss are often fraught with grief, questions, and unfortunately, family complications. It’s a terrible time to try to think through a legal process clearly. It’s often a challenge just to know where to start. Maybe you’re not even sure what questions to ask and whom to ask. How do you know you’re getting good advice and doing it right? You could probably use some help. Our Understanding Estate Administration guide can help. This guide will give you an overview of the probate and estate administration process in plain English. Request your free copy here.