Deciding on the individual to designate as the executor of your will can be challenging. In the end, it’s possible you have never had to make this decision before. You might not even understand what the responsibility of executor (or personal representative) entails.
What Does the Executor of a Will Do?
An executor is an individual designated in your will or designated by the court should you not have a will. They have a responsibility, legally, to see that the conditions of your will are adhered to and that a deceased individual’s affairs are finalized.
General executor responsibilities include:
- Managing property until the estate is settled (housekeeping)
- Collecting any outstanding liabilities owed to the deceased on the estates behalf
- Collecting life insurance policies
- Paying estate bills
- Filing the deceased final tax returns
- Filing the tax return for the estate
- Allocating property in accordance with the will
- Attending probate court to report on the estate
Who Should I Designate as My Executor?
Since most wills are direct, slight legal or financial understanding is needed to be an executor. It’s normal for individuals to name relatives or friends as their executor like their:
- brother or sister
- adult child
- trusted friend
Since the duties of probate are going to require going to court and maintenance of property, it can be beneficial to pick an executor that lives close to the estate/house.
Additionally, when possible, go over the job responsibilities of the executor of your will with the individual you want to designate as your executor. It’s vital that the individual be agreeable to serve and that they have knowledge of where your financial institution accounts and records are kept.
Beneficiaries as Executor
It’s not unusual to choose an executor from those that are going to inherit property under your will. Self-interest should guarantee that they are going to safeguard assets and maintain real estate and that the process is finished in a timely fashion.
Friends and Family are Not Required to Be Your Executor
Should you not have living relatives or friends, you are able to hire a financial institution, a trust company, an accountant, a corporate trustee, or a probate legal firm.
Can I Name Co-Executors?
Usually, individuals are concerned about the responsibilities of being executor. They have never done it previously and feel doubtful. You — and they — might feel more comfortable if you designate a co-executor. This does not divide the responsibilities or lessen their fiduciary duties. Each co-executor is completely responsible for guaranteeing the duties of probate are completed. But it does offer two people to carry out the work.
Some individuals designate co-executors to evade the appearance of favoritism. For instance, they might designate two adult children. The co-executors are going to need to have a good working partnership.
Are There Limitations on Who I Can Designate as My Executor?
All state’s laws vary, but generally, the following people cannot be designated for the role of an executor:
- Children under eighteen
Many states necessitate that non-state resident executors also to be primary beneficiaries. Go over your state’s probate law conditions or ask your estate planning lawyer prior to you choosing an executor.
What Characteristics Should I Consider When Deciding on My Executor?
Whereas an executor does not require particular legal or financial understanding, it definitely helps the probate process progress efficiently should the executor has the characteristics of:
- Detail attentive
- Good communication skills
The reason for good communication? Since family dynamics are exceedingly vital following a death in the family. An executor that cannot, or will not, communicate can exacerbate existing disagreements. This might bring about to family conflict, will challenges, or other estate legal proceedings.
Whether they should or not, your heirs might think there is ill intent in your choice to designate this or that individual as the executor. It can help to talk about your choice with relative when drafting your will, so they comprehend your reasoning.
Should I Designate an Alternate Executor?
It’s a good idea to designate an alternate executor when creating your will. Your first choice for executor might reject the duty when the time comes to put in the work. They might have moved away. Or they might have passed away. If you have designated an alternate executor, that individual is going to be asked to fulfill the role by the probate judge.
Should your designated executors be unable or disinclined to serve, the court is going to decide on an executor for your estate.
Does the Executor get Paid?
An executor can get paid for their services. The funding to pay the executor comes out of the estate itself. The executor is not required to pay the estate’s costs out of pocket. Nevertheless, some states require non state resident executors to acquire a bond to safeguard the estate from unjust use of assets by the executor. Verify with the laws in your state and make sure that whoever you decide on is able to cover the upfront expense of such a bond.
A lot of states permit a “reasonable fee”; some state laws set a cost as a definite percentage of the estate assets. Relatives do not always bill for their services as executors, but you are going to pay a fee for hiring a professional for this service.
If the will is complicated, or if considerable court time is required, an executor might want to hire a probate lawyer to help in the managing of the estate, also at the expense of the estate.
Does My Executor Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?
The probate process is somewhat routine, and most individuals can complete it with little to no help from a probate lawyer.
On the other hand, there may be reasoning an executor wants to work alongside a probate lawyer, like:
- If the executor is uneasy with their role and would like a lawyer to provide legal counsel to guarantee things are done correctly
- There are loads conflict among the heirs and the executor is concerned with a legal challenge or probate case
The executor might want to consult a lawyer or a CPA if the estate:
- Is complicated
- Includes a business
- Includes real estate that might have legal issues
- Could be subject to considerable tax liability
In conclusion, executors shouldn’t be scared to ask the court for help. Should the probate judge feel that it is necessary, they are going to advise the executor to hire a lawyer.
Speak With Your Estate Planning Attorney About Deciding on an Executor
An experienced estate planning lawyer has assisted a lot of individuals in making difficult decisions concerning legal documents. Whether it’s deciding on an executor for your will or a guardian for your children, they can aid in guiding you to a decision with which you are going feel comfortable. Contact an estate planning lawyer near you.
Staff, F. L. (2022, June 9). How to choose an executor for your will. Findlaw. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.findlaw.com/estate/estate-administration/choosing-the-executor-faq.html
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