When it comes to planning your estate, it is necessary to designate an executor. This person, or institution, will be responsible for clearing all of your debts, as well as carrying out your final wishes. Choosing the executor of your estate is one of the most important decisions regarding estate planning, so careful consideration should be given as to who best would serve this role.
The individual who assumes this responsibility should work diligently and promptly to finalize all of your final earthly matters, as well as allocating assets appropriately to beneficiaries. Even more, ensuring family harmony will be another responsibility of this person, as family friction can be especially high during times of grieving.
Some of the responsibilities of the executor, include:
Filing documents to probate court to ensure the validity of the will (this is typically required by law)
Paying final bills, funeral costs, and taxes with estate funds
Canceling credit cards and notifying government agencies of the death (post office, banks, and Social Security)
Filing final income tax returns
Allocating possessions to the heirs designated in the will
Because of the complexity of an executor’s responsibilities, the person you choose should be well organized, trustworthy, dependable, and good with preparing and filing paperwork.
Who to Choose
Typically, most people will name a family member as the designated executor, usually a spouse or child. In some cases, a close friend could be chosen if you do not have a relative that could take on the role. If the executor you choose lives out of state, be sure to check state laws that may require an out-of-state executor to be a relative. Also keep in mind that third parties can be designated as executors if you do not have a friend or relative that you feel can take on the role, especially if the estate is larger in size.
When choosing an executor, be sure that this person is emotionally capable of fulfilling such an important duty. Some individuals handle death better than others, while others may not be able to take on such a significant responsibility like that of an executor. Always be sure to ask the individual you have chosen if they accept the role, as sometimes individuals do not feel comfortable taking on the associated responsibilities.
Cost of an Executor
If a family member or close friend is designated as the executor, chances are that they will take on the responsibility for free. However, you can set aside a monetary gift for them if you decide to do so. If a third party is designated, such as a bank, this institution will charge a fee that is determined by your state. In most states, the fee will depend on the size of your estate and will range from one to five percent of the estate’s value.
If you have any questions about estate planning or choosing an executor, contact Clear Counsel Law Group to talk with one of our experienced probate attorneys.