Planning for the management and distribution of your assets after you die is important. But to help assure that your wishes are carried out, your estate planning should include careful selection of a competent and trusted executor.
Executors have an extensive list of duties. These include locating the executed will which may be held in the decedent’s home, their attorney’s office or in safe deposit box. Next, executors must file the will at a probate court to receive their legal appointment.
The executor should collect all the assets of the estate. They must also review mortgages, vehicle, health, and other debts.
After these debts are paid, the executor can distribute the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries. Once these tasks are accomplished, the executor must submit a filing with the court that all the assets were distributed and that the bills and debts were paid. The executor is then discharged.
Any adult may serve as an estate executor or administrator. If a bond is required, the bonding company will determine whether that person is financially sound. When there is no will, an individual may apply to serve as the estate’s administrator.
Estate owners should have a discussion with their executor concerning their roles and responsibilities and assure that they are willing to serve as an executor. This helps assure a smooth transition after the estate owner dies and that there are no surprises to family members and beneficiaries.
Estate owners should also select at least one alternate in case the first person is unable or unwilling to serve as an executor. Having two people serve as co-executors is not recommended.
The probate process is governed by numerous legal requirements and may be complicated, especially in a high asset estate. As soon as possible, estate owners and executors should learn about this process.
Wills and other estate documents should also be periodically reviewed and updated. This helps assure that the intended beneficiaries, heirs, and executors are selected and that these documents reflect the estate owner’s current situation.
An attorney can provide information on estates and the probate process. Lawyers may also help prepare an estate plan and assist executors, administrators, and families with its distribution.