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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Things to Consider When Picking an Executor

 Things to Consider When Picking an Executor

When picking an executor, it is important to consider the role and responsibilities of the position.  The role of an executor is to carry out a deceased person’s wishes as declared in a Will after he or she has passed on.  The executor’s responsibilities include the distribution of assets according to the Will, the maintenance of assets until the Will is settled, and the paying of estate bills and debts.  The following issues should be considered when choosing an executor:

Competency: The executor of an estate will be going through financial and legal documents and transferring assets from the decedent to the beneficiaries.  The executor must make all necessary court appearances.  There is no requirement that the executor have any financial or legal training, but familiarity with these areas does avoid the intimidation felt by lay people, and potentially saves money on professional fees.

Trustworthiness: The signature of an executor is equivalent to that of the decedent.  The executor has full control over all of an estate’s assets.  He or she will be required to go through all the papers of the deceased to confirm what assets are available to be distributed.   The executor handles all assets, pays the debts, handles the tax returns and eventually, distributes the estate assets.  Because of the high level of trust required of this position, it is extremely important to choose a person with great integrity to handle your estate.

Availability: The work of collecting rents, maintaining property, and paying debts can take more than a few hours a week.  Selecting an executor with significant obligations to work or family may cause problems if he or she does not have the time available to devote to the task.  If an executor must travel great distances to address issues that arise, there will be more of a time commitment necessary, not to mention greater expenses for the estate.

Family dynamics: Selection of the wrong person to act as executor can create resentment and hostility among an estate’s heirs.  Consider how family members interact with one another and avoid picking someone who may provoke conflict.  Even the perception of impropriety can lead to a lawsuit, which will serve to take money out of the estate’s coffers and delay the legitimate distribution of the estate.  You may want to consider a corporate trustee or third-party trustee to minimize conflicts

Taking time to consider the responsibilities of the executor is an important part of the Estate Planning process.  Gain peace of mind by making these decisions while you have the opportunity.

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