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Estate Planning: Choosing Your Executor

When writing your will and estate planning, you will also need to choose an executor. An executor is the person who will carry out the wishes of your will. Careful thought should go into who you pick. State laws may also dictate who can and can't be an executor, so it is best to consult with an attorney when writing your will. Here is what you need to be aware of when deciding your choice.

What Kinds Of Duties Will Your Executor Carry Out?

The main role of an executor is to finish carrying out your financial obligations according to the terms you and state laws dictate. This may include paying your final bills, paying the taxes on your estate, caring for any properties you own, including your main home, any rental properties, and land. It will involve meeting with bankers and the decedent's attorneys to discover all assets, real estate holdings, mortgages, and outstanding loans. They will also need to work with the attorneys to have everything temporarily transferred to the executor's name so legal decisions can be made.

Additionally, a complete inventory must be made of all the decedent's possessions. This includes items in their home, any safe deposit boxes, jewelry, vehicles, vacation property and its contents, and any other personal items that belonged to them. Then the executor must arrange for an appraisal of items and sell or disperse as indicated.

Throughout this process, the executor is responsible for documenting each activity and bookkeeping. This will be necessary for filing the decedent's final taxes and for showing the probate judge you have fulfilled your responsibilities to the satisfaction of the court.

Who Should You Choose To Be The Executor Of Your Will?

Many people choose a family member to fulfill the duties of an executor. Oftentimes, the job goes to a surviving spouse, Absent that, they may name one of their adult children or a sibling. However, this should not be automatic. As you can tell from the non-exhaustive list of executor duties, the person chosen needs to be a responsible and trustworthy individual. An executor requires strong organization and communication skills, and family members don't necessarily always meet these criteria. Additionally, some families may have long-standing feuds between members, which means handing the reins to one of them will only cause further problems. Choose a person you fully trust is capable of doing the job. Some decedents choose to appoint an attorney.

Keep in mind that some people are not legally allowed to be executors. This includes children under the age of 18 and convicted felons. Some states will also not allow someone who resides in a different state to be an executor. This is because considering the responsibilities, it can be difficult for them to do the job properly. Consult with an attorney for the laws specific to your estate. You will also want to choose a secondary executor in the event the primary executor is unable to fulfill the obligation.  


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