Choosing the right executor to carry out your will is just as important as the will itself. This is because while a will is a legal statement of how you intend your assets to be distributed after your passing, an executor ensures that your wishes are carried out as spelled out in your will. The person you choose as your executor can spell the difference between having a timely and effective estate administration after your passing and having your loved ones endure a haphazard and prolonged administration process. Whether you decide to designate this role to a family member, a close friend, or a professional attorney, the place of an executor in your estate plan is vital. Choosing the right person for the job requires careful consideration and knowledge of their responsibilities.
Responsibilities of an Executor
An executor is a legal appointment in a will that names the person or persons who will carry out the terms of the will after the death of the testator. Executors have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, and they are often granted specific powers and responsibilities by the court. These include:
- Notify necessary agencies and organizations about the death. This must be done immediately, especially for banks, creditors and other financial institutions. For instance, credit card providers should be notified after final expenses are made to avert risks of fraudulent use. The notice of death can also kickstart the process of receiving life insurance payments and other death benefits.
- Apply to obtain probate of the will from the court. This is a legal authorization to execute the will.
- Carry out any instructions about the deceased’s funeral that may be outlined in the will. The executor may obtain funds from the deceased bank account to cover the funeral costs.
- Identify and pay any outstanding bills or debts of the deceased, such as loans and credit card balances, using funds from the estate. They must also file and pay any estate taxes owed to the government.
- Document all the deceased’s assets and ensure they are protected from theft, damage and degradation as the estate administration process progresses.
- Manage the assets of the deceased. This involves creating the estate account, offsetting property bills, terminating recurring expenses such as subscriptions or memberships and paying off estate taxes.
- Identify and maintain communication with the beneficiaries. Robust and professional communication with the beneficiaries is vital to help forestall any disputes that may arise.
- Value the estate contained in the will. Assets range from simple items like clothing or artworks to large or valuable items such as jewelry, cars, stocks and real estate. All estate assets must be valued by authorized appraisers or credible sources.
- After the necessary deductions, the executor may distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will and close the estate.
Considerations When Choosing an Executor
Family disputes, legal claims against the estate and excessively demanding beneficiaries are common problems that may arise in the estate administration process. Where executors are acquainted with or related to the beneficiaries, resolving these conflicts can be challenging as the executor struggles to make judgments that are in the best interests of the beneficiaries while still attempting to carry out your final desires.
Also, most persons chosen as executors have little knowledge of the requirements and intricacies of the legal process, leading to delays in estate administration and costly mistakes that may attract unfavorable sanctions. For these reasons, you should appoint an experienced wills and estate lawyer to serve as your executor or to work directly with your executor. This is to ensure that the administration of your estate is efficient and seamless.
France Law Firm has a team of dedicated and professional estate planning attorneys who are committed to providing the assistance you need as you plan your estate.