Choosing an executor for estate administration is a very important decision. If you need guidance in choosing one or would like to consult with an estate planning attorney about other issues related to estate planning, contact us here at Meurer Law Offices in Denver. Helping with your estate planning is important to us, so let us help protect your lifetime of hard work and honor your legacy.
First, it is important to understand a bit more about your executor’s responsibilities and what happens to your estate after your death.
Opening Your Estate
After your death, your executor is responsible for “opening” your estate to start the process of probating your will. To do this in the United States, your executor must file paperwork with the county. This paperwork states that this person is the executor and will be responsible for representing your estate.
The executor is responsible for notifying interested parties and creditors of your death as well as their right to make a claim against your estate. Some probate courts expect certified letters be mailed to all potential creditors. In some states, a notice that is published in a local newspaper is sufficient to fulfill this requirement.
Regardless of the requirement in your area, your executor is responsible for determining who your creditors are and ensuring that they are properly notified. Choosing an executor for estate administration becomes very important as an inappropriate notification or lack of notification can become a very big problem.
Beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors who are not properly notified may end up in court to resolve issues. This is one reason that you must choose a mature and responsible individual.
A lot of people don’t really understand what probate is. Probate is a process conducted by a court (often called probate court). These courts determine whether the deceased’s will be considered valid. The court determines who the beneficiaries are and locates these individuals. The court also is responsible for overseeing the asset distribution.
The executor is responsible for ensuring that there is an accurate inventory of all the assets that belonged to the deceased. This inventory includes a list of all accounts, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, any retirement accounts, as well as all property owned by the deceased.
The inventory must include a list of all personal effects. Any collections, art, antiques, and valuables must also be inventoried, and their value assessed and tabulated. These inventories are presented to the court for review. To complete these inventories, it may mean going through the deceased’s paperwork, home, talking to heirs, and searching town hall documents for additional information.
All information given to the court is expected to be accurate and complete to ensure that any heirs receive their inheritance in a timely fashion. These tasks can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, so choosing an executor for estate administration a big decision.
Your executor is responsible for using estate funds to pay any remaining bills or debts, as well as collecting any monies owed. The executor then distributes funds to the heirs, according to the will.
If you have a business, your executor may need to be responsible for temporarily running your enterprise until it is legally passed to your heirs or whatever provisions in your will are carried out. Choosing an executor for estate administration can have long-term consequences for your heirs, so you must choose someone who is intelligent, responsible, disciplined, and possesses a good business sense.
The executor will need to select an attorney or accountant to calculate taxes for the estate. Any income made in the last year of your life will need to be accounted for and any taxes or refunds will need to be taken care of appropriately. Your executor really needs a solid understanding of the implications of carrying out your will, as well as the other responsibilities of your estate.
If you need guidance in choosing the right executor or need an estate attorney or guidance in limiting your estate tax liability, contact us here at Meurer Law Offices in Denver. We can provide the estate planning assistance you need.
Closing the Estate
Once all the affairs of your estate have been settled, your executor must show the probate court that all taxes and debts have been settled and all income and disbursements have been accounted for so that the estate can be closed.
Sometimes, the easiest sounding task for your executor may be the most difficult. Your heirs may not like the way you decided your assets would be distributed and your executor must explain your wishes, as well as attempt to prevent any will contests. If an heir contests your will, your executor may end up spending time in probate court as well. Choosing an executor for estate administration may mean finding someone with good people skills.
Many people often choose family members to be their executors. This may not be the wisest choice. You need to choose the most competent person to handle your will, not your closest relative (unless they happen to be the same person). It is important that you trust the person you choose, and it is important that they are highly capable of performing the tasks.
If you are having trouble choosing an executor, you can also choose an attorney, accountant, or other professional estate administration. The fees for these services can vary and may depend on the size of your estate or level of difficulty involved.
Choosing a professional does have several benefits. Professionals often have much more experience with estates and the processes involved. Additionally, they can make sure that everything is done in a timely and professional manner. Ultimately, you need to be sure to choose a person who is well suited to perform the duties of being your executor as well as willing to shoulder the responsibilities involved.