Although each estate plan is as unique as the person who creates the plan, all estate plans contain at least one fiduciary role — that of executor. Other fiduciary roles, such as trustee, agent, or guardian, are certainly important; however, your executor is basically responsible for running the entire show during the probate process. For this reason, you should choose your executor carefully.
Because people often know very little about what is actually involved in the probate of an estate, people frequently spend very little time contemplating whom to appoint as executor of their Last Will and Testament. This can be a costly mistake – both in terms of time and money.
If you have a will or no estate planning when you die, your estate will likely need to go through some form of probate. If formal probate is required, it can take months, even years, to complete. Your executor must be involved from start to finish no matter how long the process takes. After your death, your executor will need to locate, inventory, and value all of your property – both real and personal. All probate documents will need to be prepared and filed with the appropriate court. Creditors must be notified of the probate and all claims filed by them reviewed and paid if approved. If anyone challenges your Will, your executor must defend it. Your executor is also responsible for preparing and filing all tax returns that are required of the estate. At the end of the probate process, your executor is then responsible for transferring all property to your beneficiaries or heirs of the estate.
If this sounds like a complicated job, that’s because it often is. Before you simply jot down a name as executor, take the time to ask yourself who is up to the task.
- My Parent/Spouse Shows Early Signs of Dementia. Can We Still Do Medicaid Planning? - July 20, 2015
- What Happens to a Living Trust When One Spouse Dies? - July 13, 2015
- Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Rules - July 7, 2015