The cornerstone of any estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. When you create your Will you will have to make a number of very important decisions. You may assume that all of these decisions relate to the division of your assets upon your death; however, there is another decision that must be made when you create your Will that is likely of more importance than you realize-the appointment of an executor.
Unfortunately, most people give very little thought to the appointment of an executor when they create their Will. Typically, a spouse, parent, or adult child will be appointed without stopping to think if that is the right person for the job. In order to decide if someone is the right person for the job you must first have a thorough understanding of what an executor’s duties and responsibilities entail.
Your executor is the individual who is responsible for overseeing the probate process. Probate is the legal process that is frequently required one individual dies. Upon your death your executor will need to open the probate of your estate by filing the original copy of your Will along with other necessary legal documents with the appropriate court. While your executor is ultimately responsible for handling the probate of your estate most executors retain the services of an estate planning attorney because of the complexity of the legal issues involved in the probate process.
Your executor must then get to work locating and inventory all of your estate assets. The more assets you around at the time of your death the more laborious this process will be freeway executor. Once all the assets are located your executor must obtain a date of death value for each asset.
Your executor must also notify all known creditors of your estate as well is a range of publication of the probate to notify creditors you might have a claim against the estate. As creditor claims are filed against your estate your executor must evaluate each claim and decide whether or not to pay the claim. If a dispute arises regarding a claim your executor must defend your estate in the dispute. Your executor is also required to defend your estate in the event that a Will contest is filed.
Maintaining estate assets during the pendency of the probate process as well as arranging for the sale of assets if necessary are also among the duties of your executor. At the end of the probate process your executor will have to prepare and file an estate tax return before estate assets can finally be transferred to the intended beneficiaries.
As you can see, the duties and responsibilities of your executor are numerous, time-consuming, and require a certain degree of skill and ability. Keep all of this in mind when you decide to appoint as the executor of your Will.