Things do not fall into place automatically after you pass away, even if you have a last will. In your will, you would name an executor of a will to handle the estate administration tasks. The executor of a will has many different responsibilities. We will look at some of them here, and it all starts with the probate process.
In addition to the heirs that are named in the last will, there can be other interested parties. Creditors have the right to seek satisfaction from the estate before the assets are distributed among the heirs. Because of this requirement, the executor of a will is required to notify any creditors that may be out there. Under state laws, they are given a certain amount of time to come forward seeking satisfaction.
Since the executor will be paying bills on behalf of the estate, he or she will be required to establish an estate bank account.
Plus, the will may or may not be valid. There are certain legal requirements that must be met with regard to the execution of a will, and some entity must provide oversight. There is a proving of the will during probate. In some circumstances, the probate court may require witnesses to testify to make sure that the will was executed under legally acceptable circumstances.
During probate, anyone who wanted to contest the validity of the will could present an argument before the court. The grounds that could be acceptable include fraud, coercion, intimidation, and mental incapacity.
Once the validity of the will has been established and debts have been paid, the executor would take the next steps. The assets that comprise the estate would be identified and inventoried, and they would subsequently be prepared for distribution to the heirs. This can include appraisals and liquidation of property so the executor of the will have to be prepared to handle these business-oriented tasks.
Choosing an Executor
There is a certain amount of personal liability that the executor of the will must take on so you should keep this in mind when you are deciding on an executor. Plus, the estate administrator may be putting in a lot of time and effort so you want to choose someone who has the ability to devote sufficient time to the estate administration tasks.
It is also a good idea to choose a diplomatic person who is a good communicator. The executor of a will is the point of contact for everyone who has an interest in the estate, and people can get impatient. Plus, there can be competing interests within families, especially blended families. Real or perceived conflicts of interest would also be part of this equation.
Many people would say that the role of the executor is a challenging one on numerous levels. Though the executor is entitled to payment for his or her time and effort, you are asking a lot when you ask someone to act as the executor of your estate. Clearly, it is not a ceremonial role that you bestow upon someone based on your affection for them.
If you do not want to name someone that you know to act as the executor, or if you simply do not know anyone who would be a suitable candidate, you have options. You could engage the services of a professional fiduciary such as a trust company.
Your executor may want legal counsel during the estate administration. When you are working with an estate planning attorney to draw up your will, you may want this attorney to act as the probate lawyer after you pass away. In this manner, your executor would have a fully informed legal resource by his or her side every step of the way to provide guidance during the probate process.
Contact Us to Schedule an Estate Planning Consultation
When you plan your estate, you are taking a very profound step. You are crafting the way that you will be remembered, and you are passing along valuable property to the people that you love the most. Everything should be done in the optimal manner, and each situation is unique.
We would be glad to get to know you, gain an understanding of your wishes, and help you put a tailor-made estate plan in place. If you are ready to set up a consultation, call us at (606) 324-5516 in Ashland, Kentucky or (704) 944-3245 in Charlotte, North Carolina.