Planning for the inevitable involves the execution of legally binding documents. Most people use a last will to state their final wishes. However, you should also consider the human element. Someone has to gain an understanding of these written wishes and implement a plan of action. This individual is the estate executor.
The executor of an estate has a lot of real-world tasks to complete. One of them will be the admittance of the will to probate. The administration of the estate will take place under the supervision of the probate court.
A last will is not something that is passed around privately among certain family members. People who are named in the will as the heirs are not the only interested parties.
You could look at your estate as a business entity of sorts. The executor represents this entity. Yes, the executor will be distributing assets to the heirs according to your wishes. However, there can be other interested parties.
These would include creditors. All valid outstanding debts must be paid on behalf of the estate by the executor while the estate is being probated. Because the court is involved, everything must be done in a transparent manner, and there is oversight and recourse.
Your executor must take care of these outstanding debts and ultimately prepare the remaining assets for distribution to the heirs. This can include property appraisals and liquidation.
Choosing the Right Executor
When you are choosing an executor you should understand all of the above responsibilities that this individual must undertake. It is not a ceremonial or honorary role that you bestow upon someone as a show of respect.
You can love and respect someone immensely who is not really going to be the ideal executor of your estate.
The executor must have time, business acumen, and the willingness to serve in the role.
You should also choose an executor who is not going to experience any geographical challenges when he or she is called into action.
Consult With a Probate Attorney
This is a very brief and surface overview of the role of the estate executor. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the probate process and the qualities that you should look for in an executor, you should discuss everything with a licensed probate lawyer.
In fact, the executor is usually going to retain the services of a probate attorney so that he or she has the appropriate guidance. When you are originally drawing up your last will, you may want to discuss the matter with your attorney.
It would be possible to arrange for the estate planning attorney who helped to draw up the will to act as the probate attorney when the time comes.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.