One of the things that you have to keep in mind when you are drawing up your will is the fact that after your wishes have been recorded they have to be carried out by someone. This “someone” is called the executor, and it is important to understand the totality of what the executor is going to be charged with doing on behalf of the estate.
The first thing to consider is the fact that your estate is going to have to pass through the process of probate. This is when the probate or surrogate court in the jurisdiction within which you resided will examine the will, determine its validity, and supervise the administration of the estate by the executor. So ideally, when you are choosing an executor you would want to select someone who is familiar with the probate process.
The executor has a lot of responsibilities, so you’re going to want to select someone who has a good bit of business acumen and significant time on his or her hands to devote to the administration of your estate. The executor is going to have to retain the services of a probate attorney, and there will be final taxes to take care of so he or she will also have to bring in an accountant. There could also be the need for appraisers and estate liquidators.
In addition to this “legwork” the executor must also be available to respond to questions and concerns that your heirs may have about the progress that is being made administering the estate. In some families, this can be a sensitive position to be placed in, especially when there are those who are not pleased with the contents of the will.
So when you’re choosing an executor you may want to keep the realities of probate in mind. It is not a ceremonial role that you assign to someone for sentimental reasons; it is an important responsibility that requires a particular skill set.
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.